….I’d have never had another. So goes the expression. I’ve heard people say it about their second child, or their third. I’ll bet those kids are glad that their oldest sibling was such a saint, or they wouldn’t exist. But my firstborn WAS like that. And I did have more. In fact, I had seven more. 🙂
My firstborn, my husband’s mini-me, is quite a kid. He’s grown to be a pretty amazing young man. Outgoing, athletic, kind, funny, loves babies….a real catch. Although no one will be permitted to “catch” him for another five years or so. 😉
But Firstborn wasn’t always such a dream. He was what you call “rascally.” Well, no, that’s not quite right. “Tazmanian Devil.” Or maybe “Houdini.” When he was about three years old, we were visiting family, and he whirled through a room, dumping out toys and knocking stuff over, without even stopping. Someone asked me, incredulously, “Is he always like that?” Yep, he was.
Firstborn was busy, and full of energy, and liked to climb to high places. Have you ever found a 2-yr-old perched on the top of your refrigerator? It’s quite shocking, the first time.
He used to throw stuff out the window. Not just stuff….every single item in his room. After a neighbor saw him and his little brother perched on the bed and leaning out their second story window, we had window bars installed. But he had figured out how to reach through the bars to lift up the screen, then shove everything through the bars and out the window. Every article of clothing. Books. Toys. Sheets, pillows, and blankets. Stuffed animals. This happened repeatedly. Then we took everything out except pillows and blankets. We even took their mattresses, because Firstborn liked to prop them up against the wall so he could climb up to the ceiling. A month later, when we gave them their things back, he did it again. Immediately. I don’t even remember how many times we went around on that merry-go-round, but I do remember spending a lot of time in the bushes under their window, piling his every belonging into laundry baskets.
So yeah, he was a rascal. But the Houdini part? That is a tale that is frequently requested in our house. His most famous caper. The one that his younger siblings listen to with shining eyes of admiration.
When my precious Firstborn was three-and-a-half, his younger brother was two, and his baby brother was just an infant. We lived in a Cape Cod style house, with two bedrooms upstairs and one down. I woke up one morning in my first floor bedroom, with son #3 beside me. Hubby had already left for work. I was surprised to not hear any waking-up sounds from the second floor, so I picked up the baby and went to investigate. The baby gate from their doorway was leaning on the wall in the landing, and their room was empty. I immediately headed for the basement, because I had found them both in the dryer a few days before. (Aack!)
Just as I started down the basement stairs, I heard running footsteps over head. Hmmm….. So back upstairs I went, but their room was still empty. I looked at the door across the landing, the door to our spare bedroom. I opened the door and looked around. The room was filled with extra furniture, and I thought they might be hiding behind something. And then I saw the curtain flapping in the breeze. My heart stopped. Outside that window was the flat roof that was above our kitchen.
I set son #3 on the floor, and somehow had the clarity of mind to close the door, so he wouldn’t go rolling out the door and down the stairs. I went to the window, looked out, and saw my precious little cherubs running gleefully around on the roof. I put on my calmest, most not-angry face, and called them to me. I knew if they thought they were in trouble, they would run away from me, towards the edge. Remember, these kiddos were only 3 and 2 years old.
When I had them safely inside, I closed the window, and collapsed on the floor, sobbing. I called my mommy, which is what I’m assuming all 24-yr-old women do in a parenting crisis. She came over (of course), and a few hours later, I stopped panicking.
Now, here’s the Houdini part. The reason that the spare room window didn’t have bars on it, like the boys’ bedroom did, was because we had a lock on the door. I later figured out, through a skillful interrogation of Firstborn, how he had accomplished his feat. He first removed the baby gate from his doorway. He carried it across the landing, propped it on the spare room door, and climbed it like a ladder. From there, he was able to reach the hook-and-eye lock we had installed near the top of the door. In the room, and out the window.
It was a morning that reinforced the lesson I had already been learning: I can’t protect my babies all the time! I do the best that I can, and trust God (and His army of guardian angels) to cover the rest. But I survived it, right? 🙂 And most importantly, so did my sweet little boys. Now excuse me while I go de-brief myself from reliving this trauma.