My 15-month-old Jacob is a climber. There is ample photographic evidence of that truth right here on this blog, in fact. You can see him scale the piano shelf, or master the playground unassisted. Or there was that time he made it to the top of our patio table. He just likes to ascend stuff.
When Jacob was 11 months old he figured out how to climb 4-year-old Hannah’s step stool. We keep the stool in the kitchen so that our preschooler can stand at the counter and cook or eat or just be part of whatever’s going on. At first, we tried to discourage Jacob’s step stool use. After all, he couldn’t even walk at the time, so climbing up to the kitchen counter seemed a touch ill-advised. When Hannah wasn’t using her stool, we left it lying on its side. But as soon as Hannah needed it, Jacob would hear us and try to push his big sister out of the way.
It soon became clear that if an 11-month-old on a step stool was sort of unsafe, an 11-month-old and a 4-year-old on a step stool was a recipe for disaster. So I headed to this super-exclusive furniture boutique I know, and bought a second stool. And that mostly worked. The kids each had their space at the counter, and there were really very few bruises to show for it.
Life was pretty good for a few months, there. I served the kids breakfast at the counter, or gave them utensils to play with while I cooked. Sometimes they would stand up on their stools and help me wash the dishes, separately or together. It was a happy time, and I was a happy mother.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. In the case of the stools, Jacob got too smart. He realized that if something was out of his reach, he could push his stool around to get it. This is how I found him standing at the stove one day playing with the burner. Thankfully, it was off at the time and no damage was done, but the message was clear. My toddler and his stool were not staying put.
I didn’t see what the solution was, though. Ditching the step stools at that point seemed impossible. The kids and I enjoy them, when used properly. But I clearly couldn’t count on their proper use. And then my husband came up with an answer – the stools needed leashes, so that they couldn’t stray.
We bought some rope and tied the stools to our kitchen island. There is some slack, but not enough to reach the knives or the stove or the kitchen sink. Happiness reigns once more. Unless, of course, you’re a toddler who really wants that knife, and then you might be briefly screamy. But that? Is a small price to pay for my relative peace of mind.
Have you had any near-misses that caused you to do some creative baby-proofing? Any experiences that made you want to lock your toddler in a secure cell for a year or two? Please share!
I am also participating in the Green Moms Carnival today! You can read my post, My Kids, The Planet and My Wallet, or you can check out lots of other great posts about saving money through green means over at Condo Blues.