When we added our third child to the family not quite three years ago, it rocked our world. And not in a good way, at least at first.
I can still remember those first few months when chaos reigned and I thought I was destined to burst into tears several times each hour. For us, the third child was a huge change. It wasn’t that the baby was so much work – in fact, I had never had such an “easy baby.” The big change for us was that now the children outnumbered the adults and the two older ones were determined to take advantage of it. My hands were full with the baby most of the time and my husband would deal with the other two. Except the older two would split up and cause as much chaos as they could separately. It was insane.
Thankfully, we learned how to encourage the older two to create chaos together instead of separately. Well, there was more to getting things back into structured chaos than that, but they certainly know how to wreak havoc when they want to! Anyway, adding a fourth to the mix wasn’t nearly as traumatic and our pediatrician assures me from personal experience that numbers five and six are added with minimal fuss as well.
Some would tell you that the fact that my third child was “easy” was because I had finally relaxed as a mother or that I had experience with the other two. In my opinion, that had nothing to do with my child – that’s only my part of the equation. This baby really was easy. She would fall asleep in my arms or her crib equally quickly and silently. She ate anything I put in front of her without a fuss. She smiled and coo’d. She didn’t spit up on me constantly like my second. She didn’t scream for hours each afternoon like my first.
My “easy baby” was a pretty easy toddler as well. She talked way earlier than our first two, so she could express herself nicely instead of screaming. She figured out how to operate just about every toy in the house by just watching someone else do it once.
Sure, there were some bumps in the road. My walls are covered with crayon, pen, and marker scribbles because we couldn’t manage to keep them out of her hands. (Yes, yes. I know all about how great Magic Erasers are on walls. But not OUR walls. Perhaps I’ll save that for another post.) She was so tall that she could open handles and get into (or out of) rooms earlier than we would have liked. But she’s so cute and bubbly and plays so nicely and quietly by herself that she was never a big troublemaker.
Until Just Recently.
I should have realized that my ‘easy’ days were over. . . . I was working on cursive handwriting with our two oldest and keeping an eye on Number Four. I wasn’t sure exactly where Number Three was, but she was probably in one of the bedrooms playing quietly with her little baby bear. She does that often.
She came down the hallway toward me, holding out her hands to me and proudly telling me how pretty they were. I realized immediately that she had painted them with fingernail polish, panicked, and carted her off to clean them up. I was so relieved that she had managed to do her fingers and toes without getting her outfit in the least smudged. That should have been my warning. But it wasn’t.
About three hours later, I finally noticed it.
and the comforter:
If that wasn’t a clue to what I’m in for, I realized the scope of my challenge on Thursday when we were packing for our trip. I had packed some items in our vehicle and let the children play outside while I was doing so. Then, I went around the house to supervise the usage of a box as a playhouse in our back yard. I soon realized that while there were neighbors playing with my children, my third child was no longer playing with the others in the back yard. Back to the front of the house I went.
Before I tell you where I found said child, I should back up a minute and tell you that we have been having issues with this particular child climbing in and playing in our van. She likes to climb in and get into the Chapstick(TM) and the candy that I keep as a last-resort-distraction technique for long car rides. So, we had been locking the van and we also started putting the candy in the lockable glove compartment.
Do I need to explain where I found the child? Let me tell you instead what I found around the child. I found a stool that she used to climb into the driver’s side window. I found said child with two pieces of hard candy in her sticky fingers and the keys to the van in the now-unlocked-and-open glove compartment.
We are so in trouble.