When Z was a baby and toddler, I distinctly remember looking at baby-gear catalogs and wondering Who could possibly need all these baby-proofing things? Door knob covers? Toilet locks?
I mean, I am a bit of a Nervous Nelly but aren't toilet locks a little... paranoid? Are these parents hanging out in their bathrooms, dropping their kids' favorite toys into the toilet or something?
I had read the experts and formed opinions based on what they said and on what my somewhat sensitive but physically mellow baby did. By the end of her first year, a potent mixture of cluelessness and fear and ego prevailed: I was pretty sure I had it all figured out and I tried really hard not to judge other moms too much when I saw them wrangle kids with very different behaviors.
One of the best parts about having two kids is how much it has opened me up, in my heart, in my head. For me, having one kid closed me, more than a little bit. With just Z tucked under my arm, I was MORE clingy and MORE clutch-y to my ideas, my information, my opinions. In a small, judge-y recess of my brain, I thought surely, if they had just applied my tested and expert-approved methods, their kid would act like my kid, right?
I needed my opinions to be TRUE.
I knew every child was different, on an intellectual level. But when faced with a kid behaving in a completely new way, I sometimes had to remind myself of it.
Now, I GET it. I really, really get it.
E is so different from Z. SO. DIFFERENT. CG and I know a few things this time around that we learned with Z and applied to E. But mostly, we're swimming in new waters UPSTREAM every day. And it never fails to shock me, how our DNA could combine twice and make such different little people.
Z was delayed in her gross motor skills and didn't really ever crawl, while E has been crawling up a storm since she was 6 months old. How much of this difference is because Z was my first baby and I spent endless hours sitting by her, reading to her, playing with her and with E, I took the advice of everyone who said "Ignore the baby, pay attention to the toddler because the baby won't know the difference"? Was Z born more sedentary or was her inactivity due to the fact that she didn't need to go very far for entertainment and attention as it (ME) always came to her (and rarely left)? E may be more adventurous, more stimulation-seeking by nature but, as I realized after her little adventure last week, she may also go in search of attention and entertainment because it so infrequently comes to her. When Z was an only child, my world revolved around her. With E, I'm always trying to stash her somewhere so that I can get things done.
It suddenly hit me this weekend, as CG took Z to visit her aunt and uncle for two days. Several times over the last two days, I spent whole hours sitting on the floor with E, just sitting there, reading books, rolling balls, stacking blocks.
I couldn't remember if I'd ever done that with E. EVER.
And then, I watched E crawl away from me, toward the pointy corners and electric cords, with her pterodactyl screech and a gleeful grin over her shoulder: you watchin' me, Mom? She is thrilled when I come running to take something out of her mouth, move her away from an edge. It isn't so much that she wants to get away from me.
She wants me to run toward her.
She wants my attention.
To get back to my earlier question: were these other parents hanging out in bathrooms dropping their kid's favorite toys into the toilet?
No. They are busy, plopping their babies on the bathroom floor while they peed and washed their hands, turning their backs for ONE SECOND to find that their beloved child, the one who is surrounded by beautiful toys made from virgin, organic, free-range alpaca wool, the one who is ready for adventure by nature, has silently crawled 10 feet and opened the toilet lid to plunge her fingers into the swirling water while gumming the toilet seat.
(Oh, E, she loves those toilet seats.)
If Z made me into a self-proclaimed, in-my-own-head-only expert on child rearing, E has made me into a true beginner. That zen 'beginners mind' stuff? RIGHT HERE, BABY.
So, who could possibly need toilet locks?
Us, that's who.