Still, I will put off such designatory decisions for another day, I suppose. Too much of my mental energy is consumed these days by simply keeping up with the nearly ambulatory baby, who enjoys getting into pretty much everything. As the title of this post indicates, the list of things which fascinate him is headlined by trashcans and commodes, which I realize now (in our house, at least) are both opaque and white, and I’m sure that contributes to their allure, so blank yet so mysterious! Far more interesting than the seven billion different colorful and educational toys lying around the house, either scattered directly on the floors or piled into bins which are themselves on the floor and easily accessible for the baby. Other items which make for far more interesting playthings than actual playthings, as far as my son is concerned, include refrigerator magnets, clean laundry in a basket waiting to be folded (but not, I hasten to add, waiting to be pulled out and strewn all over the room, ahem), pet food bowls (including, perhaps especially, when the dogs are actively eating out of them, which is not exactly the safest time to make a wild grab at them), and his big brother’s eyeglasses.
I was going to say something to the effect that at least the baby seems to be past the point where the alarm-bell highest priority concern was choking hazards, until I remembered that he seems to have developed a gourmand’s taste for crayons (a wax tooth, if you will?). The very fact that I momentarily forgot is probably an indication of the inevitable slide toward compromise that is the inevitable byproduct of two working parents having three (or, I shudder to imagine, more) kids. We were very good about keeping the house choking hazard free when we only had one baby in the world to worry about. When he got a little sister, we were still hyper-vigilant about monitoring for choking hazards and keeping her away from them. By the time this baby was crawling, we had resigned ourselves to just doing the best we could, whatever form that might take on any given day. Exhaustion was a factor, as was the proliferation of said hazards, as the other kids got old enough to be allowed to play with toys with small removable pieces, and we didn’t want to deprive them of that, and there are trade-offs between keeping the choky-bits of toys sequestered in the little guy’s bedroom while the infant-friendly toys are all in the living room, because that means the baby playing in one room and the little guy on a different floor of the house, and sometimes there’s only one parent at home who sadly can’t be in two places at once, so OK fine, everybody just play in the living room and we’ll manage. I’m rambling, I know, but maybe my ungoverned train of thought gives some sense of how it’s possible to inadvertently end up concluding that hey, maybe this third child of ours will just not stuff random little things in his mouth, because it certainly would be a big help to us if that were the case.
Alas, the baby’s self-preservation instincts are no more finely developed than his siblings were at this age; if anything, he may be even more of a risk-taker. Another non-plaything which the baby (if he could speak) would passionately argue is, in fact, a plaything? His big brother’s nightlight, which is conveniently plugged in at nearly eye-level for a crawling babe. And not only is the baby strong enough to grasp the nightlight and pull it right out of the socket, but he has done so more than once and, upon completing that step, has become genuinely torn between two avenues of exploration: the light in his hand, or the outlet on the wall. My wife swears to me that she put the baby down for a second, turned around, and then had to catch up to him already in big brother’s room, already holding the nightlight, and literally(!) licking his fingertip before tentatively reaching toward the socket slots. She swooped in and picked him up before he could complete his experiment, of course. Never a dull moment!