We knew when we got into this whole parenting thing that there would be challenges. Midnight feedings, teething, the very messy yet necessary potty training, these are all things that we knew to expect. We even had a pretty decent go of baby proofing during round one. I think the only major casualty was an unattended laptop that was pulled down and broken. That is an easy fix…don’t leave things unattended. This new one though, the not-so baby Arrow, has been a handful from the start. Small child version 2.0…more like small child version T-800, mischievious to the extreme.
First, it started with the typical toddler activities. The moment she is free of your grasp, she would take a brief look around and then suddenly bolt in the most dangerous direction in search of freedom. That was evolved into her picking the direction in which she wishes to travel by dropping to the ground as dead weight if we attempted to move in any other direction other than hers. This was easily overcome, as despite her extreme determination, I was still more than capable to pick up and carry a sack of potatoes, no matter how displeased she was.
Well, that sack of potatoes has grown a little and has learned to live by the saying of working smarter not harder. She is incredibly observant and watches everything we all do, including her big sister. If something is too high, she will find a stool, chair, box…it was definitely a hint of her problem solving abilities developing.
Door knobs were no match for her. If we went to visit someone with a new style, she would stay at the door practicing. Once she figured it out, the door would open, and close, open and close, until she achieved master status. Then, she would act cool, pretending that she wasn’t interested in the door anymore. Unlucky for her, we have a keen ear for the the too quiet, especially when it is paired with a door opening and some giggling. And thus began our futile attempts to try and contain our little free spirit.
With the new baby born, we needed to give the middle one an eviction notice for her time in the crib. We got a bunk bed since for the two older ones, and at first the new big kid bed was going okay. Nap time was pretty smooth, but soon enough the older one could not contain her excitement of this new arrangement and began distracting and encouraging her little sister. In and out, in and out…we had to constantly tell them to get back in bed and go to sleep. For a while, we got away with being able to stomp on the floor as if we were coming, and they would dive back into their beds. They sorted that one out quickly enough and we spent a good chunk of time adding a significant number of steps and stairs to our daily counts. Generally once we got them to sleep, they stayed asleep…at least for a bit.
The girls are in the basement, and we have a baby gate from the main floor to the top floor that we keep open at night so that the older one doesn’t rattle it like a zombie trap and wake us up if she happens to have to pee in the middle of the night. Well, soon enough we had a different set of fe, fi, fo, fum steps coming up to say hi at all hours of the night. Not like it was possible to sleep through the thunder roar of toddler footprints slowly approaching, but still, I couldn’t help but notice that they always bypassed her side and came right to my side, crawling into the bed for a cuddle. The majority of the time I was so tired, that I did not put up much of an argument. In fact, there were many times where I was unsure of how long she was actually in the bed because I would just fall right back asleep and she was more than content exploiting that.
More times than not, by the time I was able to build up the energy to march her back downstairs, I would find all the lights on in her room! Thank goodness her sister, who is was the top bunk tenant, was generally out for the night once she fell asleep. We tried putting her back down and just leaving….it was a matter of minutes until she came to visit again. Then we tried staying with her in her bed until she fell asleep (contrary to every parenting book ever written), only to have her poking us in the eye, nose, etc while we are trying desperately to get some sleep. We tried middle of the night milk top up to get her to sleep, which had a 50/50 success rate and usually involved her turning into a giggly little menace.
After too many nights of interrupted sleep, which resulted in a lack of focus and constant fatigue at work, something had to change. This resulted in me standing in the dark kitchen at 3 something in the morning, searching the internet to see if there was such a thing as child locks for light switches. I was relieved that there was, but even PRIME shipping could not get it there fast enough. Next, I looked for something that would still allow for the door to be opened in case of emergency, but would somehow prevent or discourage the little sleep depriver from readily opening the door. I kept this one in the cart for further discussion, but after it was determined that the door could easily be opened by lifting the handle instead of pulling it down…those child locks were not far behind.
Fast forward about a week and our hopes were rejuvenated as the new security measures arrived in the mail and were installed almost instantly. It was not lost on us the fact that our every moves were being observed and scrutinized by a certain small child. There was a brief moment where we discussed what level of security on the light switches. The lesser option was to have the switch covered, but the sides are open, so you just stick your finger in there to turn it on and off. It took about half a second to decide that such measures would easily be defeated by our little super spy in training. The Fort Knox version was to have the switch completely covered and you need to use a thin object, such as pencil, to turn the switch on or off. She wasn’t even two yet, so we were hoping that her fine motor skills were still under developed enough to keep her at bay.
That first night was both glorious and amusing as we did not have to actually go down there, but at the same time, could watch on the monitor as she made futile attempts to escape. The task was made even more difficult for her as she could not fully examine either of the new security measures because she had no light. After attempting to obtain assistance from the cats by bribing them with small toys under the door, the sleepiness finally took over and she fell asleep on the couch next to their door. All we had to do was migrate her to her bed before we went to sleep, which was easy because she was already asleep.
This one night of defeat did not discourage the little de-terminator. Instead, the experience only encouraged her to solve the riddle to this new obstacle. She was there to obverse as the lights were turned on and off. She noted the location of the tool that we had used, an unused pencil that we had commandeered from her older sister’s pencil box. Retrieving this specialized device was going to be a task in itself as it was at the top of the tall boy dresser, but she would sort that out when the time came.
We got a good couple of weeks until we went downstairs to get her up from nap time, and the lights were on…Only one of the two lights were on, over the play room and not where their beds were. I sat there in the doorway, staring suspiciously at my surroundings. Did I leave the light on? There was no way that this small child had broken the code that easily. My eyes scanned for clues, stopping on our specialized, heart covered pencil that remained untouched where I had left it. Once again, doubt filled my mind and I was shaking my head trying to remember if I had slipped up and left the lights on during nap time. It couldn’t be. I stepped forward into the room to investigate further when I felt it. Distracted by the quandary, I had left myself vulnerable and had stepped right on an unidentified plastic object that was just waiting to cause me pain. I may have released a few choice words, but none nearly as bad as those exclaimed once I saw what it was.
You see, our oldest is a dragon enthusiast. I have no idea how many times that kid has watched the How to Train your Dragon saga, but I am pretty certain that if they would be worn out completely if they were being rocked on VHS. One of her favorite toys as a result is a big, black Night Fury named Toothless. Embedded in the bottom of my foot was the little plastic stick with a small tip of blue “fire” that Toothless is able to shoot out of his mouth. This was only one of her many security breach tools that she developed since then, granted, it is also one of her favorites. Other honorable mentions include, but are not limited to dinosaur tails, Harry Potter’s wand, and of course the random pencil crayons that her older sister “forgot” to put away. These are especially handy because she can use them to color on random things after the lights are on.
Lights = FAIL
Door = TBD…