Batten down the hatches, me buckos, the babies are on the move! After many long months of confinement in baby buckets, my granddaughters are crawling. Both of them. Every day, I get reports from my daughters on their respective coasts about their little ones’ adventures in their wide new world. The babies happily navigate around furniture and retrieve their toy of choice. Ta-da! While they’re at it, of course, they retrieve bits of grass from the tracks of the sliding glass door, loose threads that pull easily from the carpet edges and long-lost Cheerios accidentally kicked under the fridge.
They’re very different, my little ladies, different personalities, different preferences in food and dress, but one thing is the same–on the loose, they seem bent on finding things that are hot, sharp, poisonous, small enough to plug an airway or highlight minute lapses in their mothers’ housekeeping.
They’ve discovered the joys of unwinding toilet paper rolls, throwing things into the toilet and dumping out the dog water. There have been bumps and bruises when their heads did not clear the coffee table, tears when cellphones were repositioned on the kitchen counter, and wails when their mothers have not allowed them to chew on things like the soles of their cast-away shoes. (To be fair, the dogs are not allowed to chew on the shoes, either.)
I realize the natural toddler way of exploring the world is to lift, shake and gum, but the world is full of things that are better left unexperienced on the palate. I’ve been to wine tasting events where the sommeliers referred to a particular vintage as having overtones of leather or cigar box, but I just took the guy’s word for it because I don’t remember ever having tasted those things. Not so with my granddaughters. They want to taste everything.
My California granddaughter is coming to visit next week and I want her to be able to move about freely and explore, so I’ve spent the past week crawling around my house looking for sharp corners, open stairways, things that are breakable or ingestible, anything that will elicit a panicked, “NO!” I’m looking for tiny cobwebs tucked under the baseboards, bits of bark tracked in on the soles of my shoes, housebound flies that decided to call it quits on the windowsills.
I know all the basics–haul out the baby gates, put guards on the drawers and cabinets, add those maddening squish-and-twist covers to the doorknobs. I’ve hiked up the drapery cords, moved the potted plants and put protective covers on the floor vents. Next stop, inflatable pool rafts on the fireplace hearth.
And a good thorough clean. Not that I don’t clean the house every other week, but Harold and I operate from a 5-foot-something vantage point and our eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so I’m sure there are things that I’ve missed.
Crawler cleaning is a whole other level of clean. Sterilizing baby bottles and chew toys was child’s play. You now have to apply that same level of attention to the bottom third of your entire house because whatever crawlers cannot put in their mouth, they will wear on the knees of their overalls.
You don’t want that. Every morning, you vacuum, dust, and mop. And when the babies go to bed, you do it again or pay the price when some woman gives you that bad-mother (or grandma) look at the grocery store.
Not this go-around. I’m cleaning up my act, my friends. It’s all about the crawl space.