Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This is why we don't go out ...

Today, we went to our friend's house for a barbeque. They have an 18-month old and 4-year old. They assured us their house was fully baby-proofed and they would love to host Labor Day at their place. So ... after Charlie convincing me everything would be fine ... we went.

Their house was immaculate. Their children were well behaved. Their house plants were still alive and their floor lamps had not been toppled. They only had one baby gate blocking their flight of stairs and not a single bathroom door was closed. There were no safety latches on their cabinets and their CD's were in plain sight and less than 2-feet off the ground. Did I mention they have an 18-month old?

Within seconds of stepping foot in their house, I realized that their idea of "baby proofing" and my idea of "baby proofing" are vastly different. Suffice to say, this was the worst dinner party of my entire life and I have vowed to not return to our friend's house until our kids are 10. For those that are wondering - this dinner party was even worse than the time my professor from college and his wife came over to our apartment, she got completely drunk, smashed her corn-on-the-cob in to her salmon and called everyone at the table, including Charlie, a bitch.

On the drive home tonight, Charlie and I had a talk. I asked if it was possible that our children were absolute tyrants ... or if their children were abnormal. Three hours later, I'm still completely confused how in the world they can co-exist with an 18-month old AND house plants. And CD's in plain sight less than 2-feet off the ground.

At our house, there are areas where children can play - and areas where they can't. We do not give them free run of the house. That was not the case at our friend's home ... the kids could "explore" where ever they wanted to. While their children left all of the CD's alone and didn't press every single button on the stereo player ... our kids zoomed in on those two objects faster than a moth to a flame. And ... they left ALL their sand in the sandbox. While our kids were flinging sand all over creation ... their children sat quietly in the box sifting sand and building little castles with moats.

This experience begs the question: Are we doing something wrong by restricting what our kids can play with ... at our house?? Should we take down all the baby gates and let them have "at it"?? If we give them this kind of unreigned freedom ... will it make them less likely to destroy absolutely everything that they can get their hands on??

I wonder... (But I'm not entirely willing to take the chance.)

While their children sat and ate their food - our kids threw rice and beans all over the place and decorated their table and walls with guacamole. When they brought out brownies for dessert, our kids were double-fisted with mouths full of chocolate and grabbing for more. Giving Charlie the look of death that clearly says "MUST LEAVE RIGHT NOW" our children promptly laid on the ground and threw temper tantrums.

Our hosts just smiled at us and said "Oh, they are so cute." Yes ... cute kind of like my college professor's drunken wife who slurred her speech and tried to pick a fight with our cat.

Even though our kids aren't yet 2 ... my worst fear is that we are raising brats. At this age - we're not really doing anything to stem their erratic behavior because there is very little we CAN do. There are three of them and they feed off one another, like a storm brewing.

My analogy is a rip tide at the beach. When you're stuck in a rip tide, the best thing to do is conserve your energy and wait until you get spit out so you can swim safely to shore. Or, signal for help. If you struggle against the rip tide too much ... you're likely to drown ... unless your mother from South Carolina a lifeguard comes to the rescue. I feel like it's a futile effort to try rationalizing with three toddlers. Doesn't it make more sense to conserve my energy, keep my head above water, and reason with them when they get a little older?? Or, by that point - will I be washed out to the middle of the ocean and consumed by sharks??

I want to be a relaxed parent ... the kind of parent that doesn't hover over their child and constantly chant "No, No, No, No, No."

I also want to have relaxed kids ... the kind of kids that are not afraid to explore but don't destroy everything that they touch. I also want for them to be obedient and to not throw their food all over the place. But at THIS age ... I wonder if I'm asking too much.

Am I asking too much???

In the meantime we're staying home with our rats and spiders and three toddlers that have arrived at Hurricane Level IV status. Going out is hugely over rated. Especially when it involves having dinner with our friends and their abnormal children.


  1. I don't have triplets but I do have twins and a singleton 20 months later and this is my take.

    My twins were exactly the same way as your triplets, we had no lamps, no plants, and gates everywhere. When we would go to someone's house and they would give snacks in an open bowl my kids would dump it on the floor and they would touch EVERYTHNG. I was sure we were raising zoo animals.

    I truly believe it is because they are multiples and they feed off of each other. One does something and the other one takes it up another notch and in your case yet another notch.

    My scientific backup for this is that my singleton touched nothing, barely needed a gate, NEVER went in the cabinets, etc. I also believe a younger sib takes their cues from the older one and if that one is 4 the 18 month old will definitely act older.

    Don't take it to heart, I really believe it is a multiple thing and I still find at almost 5 and 3 1/2 my three can be a whirlwind. They listen and are well behaved but the three of them our like a tornado at times. I think it is the pack mentality, lol! As my husband and I always say it gets MUCH easier but there will always be some level of chaos involved. Oh, and we have houseplants, lamps, and picture frames out again in our home, lol!

  2. I laughed about the different levels of childproofing - it is oh so true. And then, probably not the response you thought this post would create - but I started crying, just because I KNOW the frustration. And not knowing the answer - fewer gates, more "no,no, no" to teach boundaries, allow the exploration or save the sanity (and the house), go out and have everyone wondering why my kids are berserk or go crazy staying home with the spiders and rats (in literal and other forms)?!

    One thing I hang onto is gratitude that my kids are energetic and curious and smart - all things that will serve them well if they retain it into adulthood. If I can figure out a way to channel it.

    I think it really is just a matter of going with the riptide. And in the meantime only getting together with kids like yours. So... want to come over?

  3. Our twins are 19 months and have free run of the house except the bathrooms. Yes, we have to watch them all the time, but I do think it makes them less likely to be totally destructive... We have locks on the cabinets with CDs, and we only have one bookshelf that is in their reach. The lamps are still around, the coffee table is still there, etc... We don't have stairs, but I would have a gate on the stairs if we had them.

    At this age, I don't mind if they make messes, I only mind if they break things. So, yes, they constantly pull books off shelves (we just wait until they go to sleep to put them back), but they have learned that, for example, they cannot crawl on the coffee table, just through re-direction.

    Our house is a bit of a disaster area, but I really don't care... We straighten up a bit at night,

  4. I love this Blog---what fun. I cannot wait to come back and have you go away and I will need to take all the gates down--because I cannot climb over them. They are curious healthy children and are right where they should be. My angels---Perfect in every way.
    Do you ever remember a gate up in our home? What a fun time to be with the little darlings.

  5. one 4yr old + one 18 month old < 3 22 month olds.

    THREE 22 month olds!

    You seem to have it all under control with those kids...i wouldn't worry a bit.

  6. I definitely don't think you are raising "brats" by any means. I think your children sound very loving and affectionate in what you post about them.

    I can only say from experience that you should NEVER compare your pack to a singleton!! I've had the situation to experience both and they are SOOO different.

    My daughter NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER touched anything she wasn't supposed to. She was talking before she was 2, she was in a "big girl" bed before she was 2, she played with her dolls and strollers so nicely, and I could take her almost anywhere!

    My boys on the other hand love to fight, they feed off of each other ALL DAY LONG, they get into everything, they don't travel well, they chatter a little but mainly GRUNT to each other, and I can't even fathom the day I have to take them out of the confinement of their cribs.

    I'm surrounded by people at work with abnormal children too and it's frustrating. I guess MORE so frustrating for me b/c I used to have one of those abnormally well behaved kids. I want back in the CLUB!!!

    It will all pass though and you will have well rounded, competent, independent little souls ALL around you......at least that's what I'm holding out for!

  7. I agree with the first poster. They definitely feed off of each other. I couldn't imagine ungating my play area. A friend of mine told me to ungate and let them learn but I just can't imagine. I've been at other people's houses and it is HARD! They get into EVERYTHING! But I think it has to do with being multiples as well as the nature of the children. I have one that is truly high energy, curious, kind of high strung. The other guy is not so much, but he feeds off of his brother.

    I kind of wonder about the free reign thing too but not enough to do it. Everything would be broken. They have access to the living room and dining room and that's it. When they want to go to their bedroom I let them, but I have to supervise a little more.

    All I can say is that I'm sure your children are not brats. They're just a lot harder than singles. I think you're doing great. And they'll be just fine.

  8. OMG! Ahhh...sorry, we have plans for September 9th.... you can't stay with us... NAW, just kidden! Bring 'em on! Shayna can show everyone where all of the bathrooms are located...

  9. Michelle in OR9/5/06, 12:27 PM

    I can't imagine what your up against: three times as much as me! I have one VERY BUSY little boy and I've been at wits end more times than I can count. I'm sure multiples feed off each other, but I also know that a child's personality has a LOT to do with it. So, if you have THREE curious toddlers, you're in big trouble! LOL.

    My son had free reign of the house, but anything dangerous was locked up. So, all day long I guarded the computer/TV/bookshelf/coffee table. It was SO hard. Honestly, chasing a very curious and active little boy around completely wore me out and frustrated me every day. I really admire you for your grace in handling three. Keep re-directing them. Re-directing didn't work for my son at the time, but now that he's almost three he's a lot better. I hate to say it, but he still gets into things and does a lot of mind-boggling dangerous things (like trying to unscrew the lightbulb in the fridge the other day), but I'm getting the hang of this. You will too!

    Michelle in OR

  10. Aunt Grace9/5/06, 2:16 PM

    That was so cute, remember it so well, remember going to Nana's house with all of the 45 Grands? She used to say, "leave them alone George is only swinging from the top railing." Oh what a great time, wish I was going with Mom when you two are gone, we would have thoes three whistling Dixie by the time you came home....probably potty trained too!!

  11. Our children are angels from heaven! I agree with code yellow mom in that we are blessed to have three curious, happy and healthy kids. What could be better?!?

    Like all things, this to shall pass. Then we'll have teen agers!

    I love ya sweetheart!

  12. Ann E. Mouse9/5/06, 4:18 PM

    Things are always more fascinating at someone else's house, too. My singleton is 2.5 and he will ignore our house plants and water cooler because he is used to them. At someone else's house (or the doctor's office) - these are things to be explore.

    We never needed baby gates but darned if his best friend didn't fall down my stairs one day!

    We absolutely have locks on every cabinet and drawer - that's just asking for trouble.

    I am surprised everytime when a playmate will come over and start dispensing cold water all over my floor because, gosh, my kid doesn't ever touch it unless he's getting himself a drink. Why? Because he was slowly and gently taught not to. But you can only teach three toddlers so much and you have to do whatever you can to minimize the work for yourselves so if that means gates and leashes, you're doing fine.

    Your blog is really funny and makes any rough day I have with my one toddler seem easy! Thanks for sharing the stories.

  13. Jen, don't worry about it. You are raising beautiful, healthy, smart kids.

    Remember that you are raising THREE babies all at once. My idea of childproofing is putting plastic thingys in the electric sockets. However, I have a little more freedom to do that because I only have to watch one. My idea of childproofing would be vastly different if I had three at once. It also helps that there is almost four years between my two.

    Your method of childproofing is fabulous! I have never meet a 6-year old that puts plant leaves in their mouth. You'll be fine.

  14. Funny this is your post for the day and I just came across Lesa's new movie. She does babyproof, but she also lets hers have more freedom than I can ever be brave enough to do in the near future. here's the link to her site, and the link to her movie is scrolling across on the top.

    I think we all have to do what is in our comfort zone of safety. You do a great job and your kids are happy and feel loved. What more needs to be said?

  15. Jen, I was looking at baby pix today (boys started kindergarten today, hence the baby-love-fest) and I was like "what is the deal with all those GATES?!" There are gates visible in all the pictures. And exersaucers still out at 15 months. Was I really still using them?

    All I can tell you is that I used one gate with my DD, and I think I used it more to protect HER from the boys, than anything else.

    Don't compare yourself to the singleton world. I have twins. I have a singleton. Trust me.

  16. I am laughing so hard on so many levels of hysteria over here! Oh my goodness, I really needed to read this post today! You crack me up! When you said:
    Our hosts just smiled at us and said "Oh, they are so cute." Yes ... cute kind of like my college professor's drunken wife who slurred her speech and tried to pick a fight with our cat.
    I PEED MY PANTS!!!!!!!!!! LOL

    P.S. Who needs that friend and her perfect kids. Lose 'em like a bad habit, They're weird. Playing nicely in a sandbox? areukiddingmerightnow!? LOL I love it.

  17. WOW! Sounds like you have your hands full. I don't have triplets but I do have four kids under 7. One word has changed my life....babysitter (in your case you might need a couple!). Leave the kids at home and go out with your hubby on a nice relaxing date!
    As for the messes and other disasters, a friend told me this saying "keeping your house clean when your kids are young is like shovelling before it stops snowing!"

  18. It's so nice to read that my kids might be normal! I, too, have contained my boys more than my daugther. Two are now walking and the other one rolls everywhere. I have contained them to my living room and one mini corner hallway. My husband thought we should open them up to the next playroom (used to be my dining room. All I could think of is that opens them up to my kitchen. Forget the pots and pans and breakables. What about that water cooler that I can just imagine will not contain 5 gallons of water anymore? I am just not as gutsy. My kids know a very small space. I am just not ready to have to be the hawk. I enjoy going in another room (ummm, as I sit here) and leaving them alone for a bit. It's called SANITY! I peek in from time to time to see how you guys are doing. Your honesty cracks me up!

  19. Hi Jen!
    You got some good comments, but I'll add my 2 cents anyway!
    Nathan is like your troop--touches everything, dumps everything, etc.
    My house is probably 50% as baby proofed as yours. The bottom line is that baby proofing is more about how much you don't want to chase your kids around and tell them NO than it is about keeping them safe. You could avoid baby proofing entirely by chasing them around 24/7. That isn't possible with multiples, though.
    Also, Nay isn't walking yet. I think I need to do some more babyproofing VERY SOON.
    Oh, and kids are just different. His cousin eats snacks out of an open bowl, he will fling them everywhere. She will eat a sandwich by holding it in her hands and biting it--he will pull it apart and take one bite of meat before throwing it to the ground.

  20. THANK YOU for this post! I am going to bookmark this and read it every time I take my twins to a playdate at someone else's "baby-proofed" home.

    SO NICE to know it's not just me...