Friday, July 10, 2015

Toddler Mom Vision

When I walk into an area (office, store, home) with my small children that I have been before-- perhaps many times-- but they have not-- or at least, don't visit frequently, it's like I suddenly see everything in Toddler Mom VisionTM.

At my office, I suddenly notice all the staples stuck in the carpet. How easy to reach the staplers and staple removers and letter openers are, How temptingly climbable the filing cabinets are. How easy it is to pull open a drawer, grab a handful of papers, and create an afternoon's worth of refiling. Exactly how far it is from my cubicle to the place the hallway turns and my running child is out of sight.

At the store, again, the aisles suddenly seem much longer, the entire store seems bigger, and the restrooms disappear entirely or are always on the other side of the store. I never found the aisles so narrow until trying to maneuver a cart into a position where my twin boys can't grab anything off the shelves, but other shoppers can still get past (there is no such position). How much skill it takes to arrange items in the cart so that nothing immediately edible (like fresh fruit), squishable (like bread), breakable (like eggs), or openable (any boxed item) is within their grasp (usually involves some degree of prioritization and the willingness to sacrifice a few peaches).

And in someone's home... I inwardly cringe when someone invites us over and includes the boys. It's not that I don't appreciate it-- far from it, their inclusiveness means a great deal to me. It's just that I am painfully aware that unless they happen to have toddler twins of their own, they have no idea just what kind of two-man demolition team they just casually summoned into their living space. Isaac likes to hide and play "tricks"; Malcolm is an experimenter. If it has doors, he will try to open it. If it has things inside, he will take them out. If the space is big enough, he will crawl in it. If it's over his head, he will try to climb up it. If there are stairs, he wants to see what's at the top of them. If it has a switch, he will flip it. If it has a dial, he will turn it. If it has buttons, he will press them. If it has a touch screen, he will activate it. If it has a hole, he will poke his finger in it. If it's small enough, he will try to chew on it. If it has liquid in it, he will drink some and then dump the rest. If it seems alive, he will try to hug it, and if it's larger than a largish cat, he will try to ride it. I have spent entire playdates doing nothing but chasing first one, then the other, trying and almost succeeding in keeping them from getting ahold of things they shouldn't (laptops, cordless phones, books, beads, random shoes, various remote controls, any writing implement, scissors, screw drivers, etc.) I look at your beautiful home and I see-- "breakable-- breakable-- climbable-- breakable-- breakable-- oh god SO breakable-- electrocution hazard-- choking hazard-- breakable-- choking hazard-- strangulation hazard-- more breakables-- are those plants poisonous?-- CAT!-- and-- wait-- where's Isaac?"

I'm gathering from mothers of older children that I talk to that this Toddler Vision fades soon after they get past the toddler stage, and apparently so well that it's easy to forget you ever had to be that vigilant. But for now, think of them as "The Toddlerators"
They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until all your stuff is ruined.


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