A little daring

There was this thing someone told me when I was still pregnant and discovered that I was going to have a boy. I remember thinking at the time, gosh, that’s good to know, but for the life of me I can’t remember if it was, “You are so screwed,” or “Boys are really dumb.” I wish I could remember, because I’d like to thank that person for the keen insight into my future.

Whichever it was, ma’am, you were right.

Thank you.

***

The Guy and I were standing at the foot of the stairs, getting ready for our respective days. Hobbes was at the top of the stairs, preparing to do something dangerous and stupid with the bannisters, which are the type that involves rails. Back when we were looking at houses, the real estate agent looked at those railings and warned us that we would need to do something about them if we ever had kids. We didn’t have any at the time, so we had no idea what she was talking about; I just assumed she meant kids would push shit through them, which is what I would have done. The real estate agent, who had raised a couple already, told me it had more to do with having to saw through them to get heads out. Saw through the rails, that is, not through the kids, though that would probably be cheaper to repair afterwards.

“Why would anyone stick his head through a railing?” I whispered to the Guy.

“Because he has a small head?”

“Would you do that?”

“I have a big head,” he pointed out. “It wouldn’t fit.” Which didn’t exactly answer the question about whether he would if he could.

Now that I have a child of my own, I can conclusively state that small heads encompass small brains, which is why kids do the things that they do. I’ve caught Hobbes trying to wedge his head between the bannister railings a couple of times, only to be thwarted by the fact that we have blessed him, genetically speaking, with a disproportionately large head1 for his age (my contribution) and ears to match.2

I’ve had long conversations with Hobbes about what a bad idea it would be for him to get his head stuck through the railings, which is what the realtor said had happened with her own kids. In her case, her husband had to go out to buy a special saw, and then they’d had to spend a lot of money to remodel the entire stairwell. “And that would be bad and expensive,” I told Hobbes. He eyed me with the skeptical amusement of someone who doesn’t have to pay a mortgage, and I saw that I would have to add some other repercussion that would emphasize the severity of the situation to him. “You know your daddy,” I said darkly. “He’d probably just leave you there for days and days. You’d be stuck there, and you wouldn’t get to play with your toys, or watch TV, or do anything fun.”

Hobbes gave this some thought. He didn’t question my assessment of his father. “You could get me,” he suggested.

“I don’t know how to use a saw,” I lied. I’m all about teaching my son that women are the equal of men in every way except the one that involves actual physical labor, in which case men should do it because women are really more management material.

“You could learn,” he said persuasively, which was just cute. 3

Anyway, back to my story. The Guy and I were getting ready for our day at the bottom of our stairs, and Hobbes was preparing to do something asinine and dangerous at the top of them. I didn’t actually see him preparing to do this, but I’ve been a mother since 2008, so I don’t need to look to know when my offspring is about to try out for a Darwin Award.4.

“Don’t do that, Hobbes,” I said, still without looking. “That’s dangerous.”

Hobbes is only 3 years old, but he’s already mastered the traditional skill of aggressive Not Listening. A couple of seconds later, I heard a small voice.

“I’m stuck,” he said.

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