Monday, August 15, 2011


I simultaneously hate and enjoy teaching Oliver to do things for himself. On one hand, it means that whatever I teach him to do by himself is no longer my responsibility. Lord knows I have enough to do already.

On the other hand, it means that Oliver will extrapolate on his new skills and  use them in settings that I deem inappropriate for a less than two year old child.

For example, I  taught him to unzip his clothing, and he taught himself to unzip the suitcases and leave all contents strewn about. I taught him to pour dog food into the dog's bowl and he taught himself to pour yogurt into my potted plants. I taught him to wash his hands and he taught himself to wash the controller he'd grimed up with his PB&J fingers. In the toilet.

The list goes on. Today he showed himself to the door and tried to make a break for Grandma's.

Me: No, Oliver. You do not run out the door to go to Grandma's house by yourself.
Oliver: I do.
Me: No.
Oliver: ...yes.
Me: You need to go back home.
Oliver, writhing on the floor: I CAN'T!

Did I teach him to unlock our door? Not directly. I did teach him to unlock our mail box. I did show him how to open his little plastic tool box... Apparently, those things are close enough to unlocking a real door that he can improvise enough to do the job on his own.

More than a few times I've heard the door slam shut and had to chase him down the hall back into our apartment. The only thing stopping him from actually walking to Grandma's house is that he cannot yet reach the lock release on the building's man entrance door. And that, I'm certain, is only a matter of time. As a deterrent, I've taken to booby trapping our entrance way, littering the ground with the noisiest, most temperamental toys we've got. His stride isn't long enough to step over, so he invariably sets off a barking dog or a revving engine before he can reach the door.

It's not the prettiest strategy in the world, but it works. As long as we remember to lock the door and keep tall, climbable structures away from the door he's pretty well kept.

But... as sometimes happens when a person gets up at 6AM every morning,  forgetfulness does happen. And then your neighbors have to return your child to your doorstep while you mumble excuses.

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