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Guest Post: The Terrors of Travel with Twin Toddlers

Note: This article was originally posted on June 8, 2016 to Outside Eye Consulting.
Vermont toddlers
The other day, while my husband was letting me sleep in (until 8:30, which in my pre-baby days I did consider the crack of dawn), Eliza (one of my 18 month-old twin daughters) swung from the chandelier. Jon turned his back for a moment, and when he turned back, she had managed to crawl onto the kitchen table, grab onto the dangling light fixture, and was swinging back and forth.

These children are lunatics. They have no sense of danger, nor safety, nor propriety.

I firmly believe it is not possible to baby-proof a house. We just got back from a short trip back east, where we stayed in my brother’s gorgeous farmhouse, circa the early 1800s. It’s my favorite house in the world, and I often fantasize about taking over my brother’s life and moving into his house, antique furniture, plumbing issues, and all.

However, the entire experience was one of sheer terror, because 19th century farmhouses are not exactly toddler-proof. We arrived late at night and set the pack and plays up in the guest room at the end of our bed. My brother and his wife keep two beautiful cabinets in this room—the type full of tiny little drawers, each drawer with its own shiny white knob, and stocked with assorted curios. I woke in the morning to Jon leaping out of bed shouting “SHE HAS A KNIFE!” I sat up in a panic. Phoebe had reached out of her pack and play, opened the first tiny drawer, and found my brother’s antique bowie knife. She was waving it around nonchalantly.

Vermont toddlers
Next, the girls figured out how to work the antique iron latches on the doors, so I had to scramble constantly to keep them from plummeting down the cellar stairs or into the barn. The drop from the living room floor to the kitchen—about six inches—was another source of terror for me, as they careened around like mad drunks. My brother’s beautiful new couch gave me heart palpitations. I have no idea if banana smear comes out of light gray upholstery. And the artsy, hand-crafted wooden coffee table with the irregular, sharp border? Beautiful, but definitely a leg-breaking device. Jon and I removed it to the side room.

Which, of course doesn’t actually have a door, so the only way to block it off was to move the pack and play in front of the doorway. The girls figured out how to shove that aside in minutes. Then, they spent the greater part of each day sneaking into that room to hurl the cat’s water bowl—a handmade pottery affair—around the room, spraying water on the museum-worthy antique wallpaper. They were also particularly entranced by all the electric outlets and power cords in that room. One by one, we stacked every dangerous item on the dining room table, until the house looked ready for a flood.

Vermont toddlers
Oh their favorite part of my brother’s house, though, is a spot on the wall where gleaming copper speaking jacks are lined up in a row. Apparently those are very good for sucking on. Runner up: the filthy wood stove and all its accouterment.  They were pretty into licking the glass door to that stove. Luckily, not winter.

Outside was no better. From the poison ivy to the river flowing through the back yard to the fragile asparagus beds, we couldn’t really let them be alone for a moment. Jon and I spent the entire weekend hoping to traverse the 50 or so yards across the property to visit the spot where we got married last summer. We never made it.

Vermont toddlers
I often wonder how toddlers ever survived before the age of baby gates and child leashes. And no, I don’t use a child leash, but I will say, I get it now. I really get it. Not because you can’t control your kids or don’t know how to stop them from running into traffic, but… actually yes. That’s exactly why.

I want my kids to be free spirits, but I also want them to stay alive. Sometimes those two things seem in opposition.

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Joslyn McIntyre

Joslyn McIntyre

Joslyn McIntyre is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Utah with her identical twin daughters, Eliza and Phoebe, and her husband, Jon. You can read more of her twin stories on her blog, Cirque du Malaise, and follow her on Instagram.

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