Feb 082013

we can't have nice thingsEverything in our house is broken. This is simply the reality of having three kids under the age of four, two of which happen to be instinctively destructive toddler boys. In the past two years, more possessions of ours have been destroyed than I care to remember. Some of these include:

  • Several Christmas ornaments
  • Favorite mugs, bowls, and dishes
  • A laptop (lesson learned)
  • Every portable decorative item
  • Bath toys and Nerf balls (chewed)
  • Books, both ours and theirs
  • Photo frames and keepsakes

Sometimes I can repair the damage with my well-worn tube of superglue. More often these items are destroyed beyond repair. The toddlers are also lead suspects in the disappearance of certain things, notably my keys. We suspect they were pitched when the kids discovered our trash can, but we have no proof.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

living room dangers

Oh Pottery Barn, so lovely and so unrealistic for families with kids (potterybarn.com)

Ah, Pottery Barn. Whenever we see a finely appointed living space in a magazine or on TV — an elegant living room, a cozy bedroom, or a classy-looking parlor — we’re quick to pinpoint the weaknesses. Raising toddler boys trains you for that. Our eyes pick out the unsecured furniture, the open candle flames, the strangulation hazards.

We cringe at all of those sharp edges and tippable decorations. And we just laugh at the idea of white furniture or carpet. A long time ago, so long that I can hardly remember it, we kept our house in such a fashion. Not this fancy, mind you (we’re not millionaires) but rather nice.

Once they learned to walk, our kids were quick to exploit the weaknesses. They knocked over tables, emptied closets, and pulled down unsecured bookshelves.

Essential Babyproofing

OK, we had to surrender on home design in favor of self-preservation. Babyproofing for toddlers is a constant job: you’re up against ever-growing, ever-learning children whose energy never seems to wane. At least, when it’s not nap time. We took down all of the delicate, lovely decorations. We removed drawer handles. We secured cabinets with latches, rubber bands, even a bungee cord. We put in baby gates, which occasionally were knocked down by the sheer will of inquisitive little ones to see what’s beyond.

One challenge is that the toddlers are growing at an astonishing rate. What was out of reach or too hard to open a week ago is now laid bare to their exploring fingers. Often by the time we realize this, it’s too late, and the object in question lays in pieces on the floor. Ah, well.

Carpet and Floor Abuse

Our floors have seen perhaps the most abuse of all. This is generally for two reasons:

  1. Our innate clumsiness and the willful destructive spirits of our little ones have caused many heavy objects to drop (often shattering) 0n the wooden kitchen floor
  2. Our dining room floor is carpeted, which is unfortunate when your kids love to throw food as much as ours do. No matter how much we vacuum or steam clean, the carpets really take a beating.

Someday, when the kids are a little bit older, we might be able to recover. The few bits of delicate furniture or keepsakes that have survived can come out of hiding. Mugs of coffee left on the table won’t invite disaster any longer. Perhaps, the dream of the Pottery Barn catalog might not be so ridiculous. Until then, we might as well enjoy the ride!

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