Another Andrew story from Darren Pecoraro
Have you ever lamented the fact that a seemingly “brilliant” solution, leads to new, unforeseen problems? This is a story of such a situation. Once again, we find Andrew as the focal point of our story, similar to our other stories in how he has a knack for straining the limits of patience and restraint -ever expanding limits, which I have had to increase by necessity many times over.
Since Andrew was a toddler, keeping him where we wanted him (crib, highchair, playpen, stroller), has been a daunting task to say the very least. His ability to escape any given restraint would have made Harry Houdini envious. When it was time to trade in his crib for his first “big-boy” bed, my wife and I had an uneasy feeling that a smooth transition was unlikely. We began with a simple gate for his doorway. The benefit was that his door could remain open, we could see and hear him, and he us. Well that first gate proved to be no match for Andrew, and we were on to our second model in a matter of days. The new version was taller, and had pressurized rubber stoppers to hold the gate in place in the doorway. If the pressure was too weak, he would simply bulldoze through it. If the pressure was too strong, Adele couldn’t release the handle. After a day or two, weak pressure, strong pressure, didn’t matter because he scaled the damn thing and climbed over. Determined not to let my son outsmart me, I would raise the gate in the doorframe to make it too tall for him to climb over. Brilliant solution right? WRONG he slithered underneath the 6 or 8-inch gap I left at the bottom.
After some serious deliberation, I finally came up with the expensive solution, which would serve as a stopgap for a short time. I purchased an identical gate, and stacked them on top of each other in the doorframe, thereby thwarting Andrews’ attempts to go over or under. This idea did work for a little while, but it took about 15 minutes each time to position the gates and secure them properly. After about a week, we had a “permanent” gate on the bottom, and would only secure then remove the top gate in the interest of expedience.
I have since learned over the past few years that keeping my son in his room at bedtime is a problem that isn’t going away, and has evolved with the times. A few years ago, we began allowing Andrew to play with a video game before bed, as long as he would STAY in his bed. The video game eventually became an Ipad. This was at the time when the Ipad was in its infancy, and not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. So it was a novel approach, and a treat for Andrew. It began well enough, but like everything else with Andrew, deteriorated into a stress-fest soon enough.
When it was time to actually go to sleep and relinquish the Ipad, he wasn’t always so agreeable. He would sneak into our room, swipe the Ipad and return to his room undetected. It was only after one evening I got up to go to the bathroom that I noticed a strange luminescence cascading down the hallway. I tip-toed as quietly as I could toward his bedroom and saw an incredibly bright glow under his blanket. Unless he had an amount of enriched Uranium-235 in his bed that was an Ipad screen! The screen of an Ipad is quite bright, and not conducive to stealth operations such as this.”Andrew,(in a whispered voice) what are you doing?” “Nothing”. “Andrew, do you have the Ipad under there with you?” “No”. We tried explaining to Andrew that the Ipad before bed was a treat, and that after bedtime was not allowed. Like everything else, he interpreted this not as a directive, but as a challenge. Subsequent incidents would find us leaving the Ipad hidden downstairs, only to hear his pitter-patter on the stairs descending to look for it. “Andrew, are you in your room?!” no answer. “Andrew, are you in your room?!” no answer. “ANDREW, ARE YOU IN YOU ROOM?!” “Yes” in a sheepish voice, obviously not coming from his room, but from downstairs. I joked with my wife that it would only be a matter of time before he learned to throw his voice.
The experience of parenthood is different for every mother and father. Naturally some children are easier than others as evidenced by many of my stories. However, the events that have shaped and defined my fatherhood have made me into the person I am today, the person I want to be. My children have been anything but easy so far, (they aren’t supposed to be). But nothing, and I do mean nothing, gives me more pride, enjoyment, and laughter, than my two children. I love you both infinitely.