That’s a Good Way to Kill a Baby

When my elementary school aged kids were little, all the responsibility for their safety in our household fell to me.

mom pushes kid tricycle fail

My childproofing skills were a.m.a.z.i.n.g. 

I had the outlets covered. Check. I had the blind cords wrapped up. Check. I had the stovetop guarded with a plastic shield. Check. The doorknobs were encased in plastic, the stairs had gates at the top and bottom, every cabinet and drawer below 3.5 feet had a plastic hook on the inside that would just barely allow their little fingers into the cracks enough.

Then they’d lose their balance against the drawer or door, shutting it on their little fingertips and howling in pain – but they didn’t get to the bleach or the tupperware! Slowly over time, houseguests would pull a drawer so fast the hooks would snap off. I didn’t fix them. The kids figured out how to work the window treatments, and I became more worried about the blinds being bent out of shape forever than about the kids strangling in the excess cord.

Then came baby #3.

Swigofcoffeeorwine, Sophie and Jude, 8 and almost 7, seem to have fallen in love with their new baby brother, 9 months and cruising. They are so loving and playful, so patient… not at all like they are with each other.

They also sent him to the emergency room at 7 months.

Childproofing with older siblings is like waiting for the other shoe to drop minus the unrealistic what-ifs: because it is an absolute certainty that if you are not all over them about that baby gate, the littlest munchkin will most certainly bounce down the flight of 12 stairs. If you’re lucky, like we were, baby will roll sideways or do the penguin slide, as opposed to bouncing head over heels.

His head is made of Nerf, but I digress. You’d think the sweet little angels would care, but literally the next day, that %&*#ing baby gate is open again. Every time, I scream, “That’s a good way to kill a baby!” No house with older children and a baby is a scream-free house. Ever.

For two weeks, we were terrified that Child Protective Services might show up thinking we weren’t fit parents, not to mention the much more realistic fear of the bill from the ambulance and the ER that were to show up in our mailbox. If that was not enough, how about the scissors scissors everywhere?

Or when the big kids climb into bed at 2 a.m. when I’m nursing?

Or how about the time Jude shared his dark chocolate peanut butter energy ball with the baby? Or the birthday party balloon I found in the baby’s diaper?

And repeating, “Put your shoes on,” is NOTHING compared to “flush and close the lid or the baby will get into the toilet!” A first-time mama could not buy enough hand sanitizer to fix that mess; nevermind if big sis or bro were dropping off some kids at the pool.

And each and every time the big kids want to cuddle and carry our newest little chunk of cute…

And what list of dangers is complete without the amazing toys we now affectionately refer to in our household as baby killers:

Still, I think we will save for #3’s college fund because, friends, this kid’s tough, and we are lucky. So far.

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Vanessa Knight has been a part of the Kansas City community for 11 years (a native Texan), living in the Overland Park area with husband Josh, two children (Sophie is 6, Jude is 5), and three Labradors. A clinical marriage and family counselor serving the area, Vanessa works with those who hurt from life experiences, relationships or trauma, helping both individuals and families to love (www.securecounselingclinic.com). When she's not working, Vanessa's favorite stay-at-home things are Sequence, puzzles, picnics on the Nelson-Atkins Museum lawn, messy art projects, and trampoline jumping!