Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Natural Consequences

As any parent veteran parent will tell you, you can't protect your children from every possible danger, and though you try to redirect, minimize risks, and babyproof, not everything can be made 100% safe.
Even in an empty room with no electric outlets, there will still be the floor for baby to hit her head on when she falls, or perhaps some texture on the walls to scratch himself on when he tries to explore them.
In the end, babies are a curious lot, and that is as it should be.
They put things in their mouths. The touch things. They grab things, they pull things. They crawl out the door while you're turned away, and they open cupboard doors and get into drawers.

One of the advantages of traveling and staying in hotels is that they have very minimal clutter. This is a great relief to me, because it makes it easy to nearly childproof the room upon arrival.
I can walk into the room, put the garbage cans up on the counters and dressers, and barring a cord-tastrophe, the room is pretty much fine for an infant. (I'm not going to talk about the overpowering and disgusting cleaning chemicals, because that's an entirely different subject for a different morning.)

HOWEVER, I can't make any environment 100% baby proof, and my curious little boy is learning how to. How to open doors, how to crawl fast. How to take his diaper off. How to find mama. How to UN-baby-proof. How to open drawers.

This particular hotel room has long modern metal bar pulls on the drawers. They are particularly easy and tempting for a baby of a full 11 months. Upon realizing all he had to do was grab and apply the slightest pulling pressure and the drawer would open, he decided he'd found his favorite new toy. He smiled and laughed and clapped as he pushed the drawer closed and opened it again, learning all he could about the mechanics of drawers.

Seeing the logical outcome, I picked him up, moved him across the room and tried to distract him, and for a moment, he was distracted, but soon I heard the tell tale sound of the drawer opening again and a squeal of delight. So I picked him up and put him by different toys, but even faster he found his way back to that drawer. I tried propping a suitcase in front of it, but alas, he still managed to open it, and it was hard to walk through the room, having to step over he suitcase.

Well, as I'm sure you saw coming, he decided that the pll wasn't as much fun as playing with the drawer itself, and when he leaned in to close it, fingers still wrapped over the top edge, he learned that some toys bite, perfecting How-to make mom freak out. In my head, not out loud.
Opening the drawer and picking up my screaming baby, checking to see if his fingers were broken (only one bleeding) I was secretly grateful that he had figured out that was dangerous, that it hurt, and that he hadn't been hurt worse.

This morning, when setting him down again, I placed the larger suitcase in front of the drawer.
Well, he managed to displace it too, and again was at it with the drawer, very carefully opening and closing it with the pull. I thought, "huh, it seems he can learn a lesson the hard way." I thought too soon, as moments later he had shut a lonely finger in the drawer again, and was screaming for me to help him get loose from the mean biting drawer.

Eventually, he will learn to be more careful with drawers, but I'm afraid it's going to be a hard learning process, for him, and for me.

Have your children been learning anything the hard way lately? Please tell me I'm not the only one.