Recently my 2-year-old asked for an apple. “Cut up mama”. “Let me finish with M”, I responded. As I finished listening to M read his homework, little R came up to me with an apple looking like it should be in rehab for cutting and my butcher knife. Walking down the hall, he swung the knife at the apple hacking its red flesh to pieces. Every fiber in my body tensed up, I so wanted to scream! Carefully taking a deep breath and ignoring the visions in my head of the knife missing the fruit and slicing off his pink pudgy finger, I gingerly swooped in, thanking him for trying to be helpful, and then went over the knives and sharp object safety lecture. He just peered up to me and restated, “apple cut up please mama”.
I clearly remember baby-proofing Latches on cupboards and drawers, door handle protectors on non-kid friendly rooms, perhaps a gate here and there, and outlet covers. For kid one and two, yes, that worked great. Little man, child 3, is not naughty. He wants to be independent, a free spirit of sorts. The other day while I was bandaging M’s wipe-out wound, little R slipped outside and was on his way to the play house. Seeing the open door, I ran about 10 steps and found him in the circle drive. All smiles, he said, “come on mama, let’s go play house”. So stinkin’ cute, but so very wrong. Again, we had a chat about having an adult when going outside and safety followed by some thinking time on the timeout step. Racking my brain, I cannot recall a single incident with M or E ever just heading outside.
A week ago little R sat in the kitchen with pots, pans, and essential utensils “cooking” while I did the real cooking. For a brief few minutes, I went in to help M navigate the printer. When I returned, I found the upper cupboard open, R standing on a stool at the ice/water dispenser filling his cup. More like over filling his cup, water filled the tray, flowed down the refrigerator, and began soaking the rug. Happy as a clam, he shouted, “mama I got me water” while holding up his cup and splashing water down his head. On one hand I was very proud at his sense of accomplishment and determination. Stool, cupboard, cup, move stool, press and fill cup. I have high schoolers who get lost within multi-step activities, let alone a 2-year-old. On the other hand, I know that to reach his cups, he would have to climb on top of the counter! Next to the hot stove! Do I reprimand or do I give a pat on the back for sheer determination?
Grandma calls Little R “pistol”. For awhile, denial overshadowed the writing on the wall. Then reality set in. Yes, he is a pistol. No not naughty or mischievous. Just a wonderful curiosity about life. Sheer delight spreads across his face each time he tackles a new task. If only he put that spirit into potty training!
Our little pistol reminds us every day that parenting is about curves, bumps, and having a good lock and key.