Why Pottery Barn Gives Kids Their Own Catalog

When our first child was 4 months old, my husband and I thought it was a good time to invest in real, grownup furniture. It never occurred to us that our tiny babe, who stayed put when we set her down, would grow into a crazed toddler who treated everything as a hurdle or trampoline. Silly us. And then we had twins.

The glass coffee table was the first thing banished to the basement. That happened when Miss Toddler fell face first into it and embellished the wooden edge with her teeth marks. Two end tables went next, after I found Miss Toddler kneeling on one like a surfboard. (They threatened to take out little heads during the daily Indy 500 around our living room anyway.) Next went the front hallway bench, for the same reasons. Then, we decided our formal dining room would make a better playroom, so the ornate table and chairs went to the basement too. We’ve taken several photos of our bare upstairs with the intent of sending one to our dear interior designer for a laugh, but I fear it would make her cry.

We did add a decorative piece unforeseen by the designer: Duct tape on the fireplace doors. Mr. Twin discovered that he could slam those folding glass doors open and closed just when Miss Twin wanted to put her fingers in. Every baby lock and rope tie was thwarted, so, in desperation, we tried duct tape. Problem solved, and so the tape remained for a year. At the same time, the twins also had a great interest in exploring behind the TV cabinet, and while their sense of adventure in dark, narrow places was commendable, it was a space full of power cords and out of reach from grownup rescue. The pillows from our custom upholstered couch worked for a while, but Mr. Twin soon conquered those. Fortunately, Miss Toddler upgraded to a big girl bed, and her old crib side rails, wrapped in a pink and green floral quilt, made the perfect barrier when stuffed between the cabinet and the wall. I wonder how many of our visitors in the past year have wondered what secrets we’re keeping behind the quilt.

We’ve also accessorized with baby gates, outlet covers (immovable to adult fingers too), drawer and cabinet locks, step stools, and potty chairs. At one time, running from upstairs bedrooms to the kitchen to answer a phone call required hurdling three baby gates. It would have made a killer video game!

Then, there’s the shiny, black kitchen table. Before children, I freaked out when it showed its first scratches within a week of arriving in our home. These days, you’ll hear me say, “Kids, who wants to color on the kitchen table with a black marker?” Who knew Sharpie pens make a perfect touchup tool?

We try to clean occasionally, but it’s like a minnow swimming upstream against three whales. I steam vac the carpet, and minutes later, Mr. Twin dumps out a bowl of crackers and stomps on them. I mop the kitchen floor, and Miss Twin drops a bowl of carrots and ranch dressing upside down. The upholstery on our grownup chairs is splattered with stains. I’ve had more pee, poop, and puke on my carpet from three children than I ever saw in my former career as a nurse.

Some days, I lament my dusty, cluttered, stained house (usually while hobbling after stepping on a toy dragon), but then I see a chocolate handprint on a wall and realize the culprit is already outgrowing it. Soon enough, these little cavemen will be off with their friends, making messes elsewhere, and (so I hear from other moms) I’ll wish to find their mark in my house again. But if I should become too nostalgic, I have a reminder of the reality of these days that’s likely to remain for some time. About 6 months ago, Mr. Twin threw his applesauce bowl and it splattered into the nonremovable, white-colored heating grate behind his chair. It has now turned a sickening shade of brown, and will be kept such until one of these beautiful children, perhaps as a teenager, commits a serious enough offense to be given a toothbrush and cleaning solution.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jasmeet sidhu
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 17:04:39

    Abby, We’ve had our share of “accessorizing” the house with all sorts of childproof devices. Although the most amount of thought, money and energy was probably put into finding the right childproof lock for our kitchen’s garbage door. Simmi at 18 months of age had a flair for checking out the garbage and then very skillfuly punting it as far out as her little triceps will allow. It was like a hidden stash of pixie dust that she couldn’t get enough of , or I should say spill enough of.
    I’ll probably be hated by her for mentioning her first-ever- hobby as being a ‘garbage junkie’ of some sort but I would want her to know the sole reason to share this story in your blog is to bring forth her ecxeptional intelligence even as a 18 month old baby, A baby genius who was able to crack the codes of multiple(atleast 5 for sure)childproof locks within max 1-4 days time period of installing the new lock.
    She was clearly on a mission with these locks. It was as though more complex of a door lock we installed , the more determined she would be to find a way to open it; And once the mission impossible(seamingly so for a 18 month old) was accompalished, the resulting mess would be directly proportional to the number of days it took for her to figure the new device out. Anytime I wouldn’t see her for 15 mniutes on a stretch I just knew where to find her and exactly what I’ll have to deal with when I got downstairs. Over time I simply started picking up broom and collector purely by reflex while walking in the direction of garbage. I distinctly remember the salesman at babies R us shaking his head in disbelief when we told him that simmi was able to open(quoting him)’Mother of all child proof locks’.
    And like any other gravely delusional mother, who likes to draw positive conclusions about nasty habits of her kids, My conclusion is that I gave birth to a shear genius who at 18 months of age could challenge the designs and engineering of multiple childproof lock companies and these companies still exist,its only because there are not many 18 month olds who are as determined to solve a puzzle as my little genius 😉


  2. abbyplambeck
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 20:32:36

    Jasmeet, Simmi indeed sounds like a genius! You guys might need to install “the mother of all locks” on the car when she’s 16 too. 😉 Thanks for sharing!


  3. Lynda Olsen
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 19:18:35

    As usual, your latest blog gave me many smiles and even a bit of laughter. Yes, I imagine that these early childhood days have been beyond challenging at times (many) but the fact that you are able to laugh about it (and write about it) is admirable. Thanks again for sharing these great thoughts with your family and friends. It is such fun to read them.



  4. Margo Dill
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 10:33:49

    This is SOOOO where I am right now–and I only have one 10-month-old daughter who just learned to crawl. My mom just said to me the other day, “You’re going to want to put that coffee table in the basement, I bet.” I haven’t done it yet, as it currently blocks Katie from playing with the cable box. So. . .I am in between getting a bump on the head from the coffee table when she crawls under it, biting it when she pulls up on it, OR playing with the cable box when the table is moved and she can reach it. . . .



    • abbyplambeck
      Aug 31, 2011 @ 12:30:02

      Margo, thanks for your comment! It’s a conundrum of which is the worst danger, isn’t it? And just when we think we figure it out, our kiddos go and change their strategy too. Good luck! 🙂


  5. jcnierad
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 14:46:07

    Another accessorizing parent here. We just moved into our first house that has a staircase. Of course it is my one-year old’s favorite, favorite place to play. Between gates for the baby and gates for our dogs, our house is quite the maze. = )


  6. Char
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 15:16:35

    I feel this pain. My mild OCD causes me the occasional anxiety attack when it comes to cleanliness.


  7. Brenda
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 15:59:24

    i have often wondered what was behind that pink and green flower quilt.


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