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