(Yes, I know: not a real word.)
Yesterday, we had the Honeywell gang (sounds like something out of a 70s Disney movie, doesn’t it?) out to install an alarm system. Not because we’re terribly worried about a home invasion (frankly, I defy a stranger to attempt to enter my house by stealth and get past the front door without tripping over: a) MSF, or 2) strategically misplaced toys, and breaking his/her [see what a good feminist I am, allowing for the possibility that a woman could be just as likely to perform a complex B&E procedure?] neck. But I digress [often, it turns out] — )
We’re actually much more concerned with P3’s repeated attempts to depart the house. Until recently, not only could she not reach or work the locks on the doors, she also was completely unable to manage the necessary degree (or any degree, really) of stealth required of such an endeavor. For the first 39 months of her life, P3 had two exclusive, nonsimultaneous states: She was either awake, or she was quiet. Never both.
We should have seen it coming. The Entemann’s episode was our first clue that things were changing. One weekend morning two weeks ago, she somehow managed to go completely unnoticed — with both parents home and awake — while dragging a stool across the tiled kitchen floor, reaching the second-highest pantry shelf, grasping an entire box of chocolate doughnuts, absconding with her tasty breakfast upstairs to the guest room, settling back down in front of her princess video, and taking one bite. Of every single doughnut. Some sixth parenting sense (or perhaps, a sixth doughnut sense) made PA check on her when he went past the guest room. She was singing along with her princess video, like always, if a little mumbly.
He told me later it took him a while to actually believe what he was seeing: his pretty pretty princess, face smudged with waxy chocolate smears, surrounded by the detritus of his breakfast plans (which looked for all the world like the discarded tire pile at the scrap yard [if the tires had all had a bite taken out of them]) and oblivious to the yellow cake-doughnut crumbs that sprayed everywhere as she sang along.
We’re pretty smart people. We like to think we can learn from our mistakes. So once we stopped asking each other “Why didn’t YOU hear her…?”, we put the replacement doughnuts on the top pantry shelf and we didn’t dwell on our losses, and we felt pretty smug. At some point, if we’re really smart, we will learn that it is always a mistake, when parenting a preschooler, to relax and think you’ve got it covered just by moving the doughnuts.
Then, last week. I came downstairs to find my daughter walking in the front door. By herself. With no big brother and no Daddy behind her. As I watched, she shut it behind her and then turned the deadbolt, just like I’m sure she’s seen the rest of us do about a zillion and a half times. But when I said “Who were you outside with? How did you get out?” (Note: Mommy panics almost always require suspension of the “don’t end a sentence with a preposition” rule.) And she said, quite disdainfully “I do it MAH SELF. Like DIS.” (Also note: for some reason, sassy preschoolers always have a southern accent. I have no idea why.) She proceeded to undo the deadbolt, turn the handle of the front door, yank it open, and walk out like she’d been doing it for years, shutting the door behind her. If I hadn’t been watching, I would never have believed she could be so quiet.
Hence, the Honeywell gang. P3 can be as quiet as she wants; my new best friend’s electronic alerts (BEEP! BEEP! FRONT! DOOR!), will tell me if she tries to leave the house.
At least until she learns to disable it. I figure I have about 6 months of peace of mind.
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