You may remember that a while back I posted about our 5-year-old, Asher, referring to our baby, Marsielle, as “The Punisher.” I still don’t know exactly how he put that term together — our children never cease to surprise us — but I am realizing more every day that it’s a very apt nickname for him to call her.
You see, being five, he has some very important, intricate, detailed, award-winning projects going on. (At least they’re award-winning in his mind.) He gets his Playmobil soldiers mounted on their little horses and then he gets them all into formation. Or he builds something amazing out of Legos. Or he puts together the most fantastic Lincoln Log cabin anyone has ever seen.
Having limited his use of the kitchen table for such projects, we’ve now set up a series of coffee tables on which he works on his masterpieces.
Marsielle, almost 8 months old, bear crawls all around the house and can pull herself up to stand. And this is what makes her The Punisher: Just picture her approaching Asher’s coffee table with her hands and feet on the floor, butt in the air. Know that she has a tendency to pant heavily and/or growl deep in her throat with each physical exertion. Imagine her painstakingly, in slow motion, pulling herself up to peek over the edge of the coffee table. Then this happens: with one mighty sweep of her chubby cherub arm, she destroys his world. She is like King Kong to his New York City. She knocks down mounted Playmobil men like they’re Dominoes. She topples Lego towers. She smashes Lincoln Log buildings.
Though Asher is a kind-hearted little boy and is actually quite patient with her, his howls for parental help and baby removal come often these days.
It’s clear something needs to be done about The Punisher. But what? Obviously we need to make an effort to show our firstborn that we care (deeply) about his amazing projects. So do we allow him to close himself in the playroom and play in there all alone? Do we buy taller tables? Do we somehow train her not to mess up his stuff (though I think there’s only so much a baby can control about her body)? Maybe we can train him to train her…
(And while we’re asking questions, why do babies not like playing with baby toys? You know, the ones that the toy industry makes specifically for babies? The ones that are completely useless, because [in my experience at least] babies only enjoy playing with what they think they’re not supposed to have?)
We’re not exactly a family to make a big life plan and stick to it, so chances are we’ll just ride this stage out one day at a time, much like we do every stage. Someday soon she’ll be old enough for me to be certain she understands some behavior (i.e. punishing her brother) is unacceptable, and that there will be ramifications for misbehaving. Right now she’s just so wittle.
In related news, you can be sure that baby-proofing the house has taken on new meaning for me with our third baby, because the older kids are now playing with some potentially dangerous stuff. (Tiny Legos, anyone? How about those Playmobil add-ons? Marbles? Coins?) I used to be a fearless mom, but either because I am aging or because the 17 miles of gravel road between me and the highway reinforce that I am responsible for keeping all these little people alive, I am quite concerned every day that The Punisher will choke on something when I’m looking the other way.
I can’t keep her in a playpen all day. I can’t watch her constantly. So all I can do is give it to God… and also sweep the perimeter every half-hour, picking up any suspicious toys (or anything which I have taken a disliking to), putting some of it out of reach for a few years down the road and, admittedly, throwing a lot of it away.
I know, I’m a naughty mom if I dispose of toys purchased with good money. But it’s one less thing for the baby to choke on. One less thing for her to sweep off the coffee table. And one thing I’ll never have to pick up again.