OPINION: The Proof is in the Flour

I can’t find the baby.

Five words I never thought I’d hear myself utter. In retrospect, I probably should have known to check the cabinet because if I were a one-and-a-half-year-old and living in the equivalent of the Wilton Historical Society, wouldn’t that be the quintessential hideout to stow away with my little matchbox car?

But for a full 30 seconds and change, I’m scared shitless, with my finger hovering over the emergency call button like I’m the starring role in some bad made for TV movie called “Too Old to Have a Baby/Too Late to Get Organized for Summer,” that even the best microwave popcorn and an industrial-sized box of Kleenex couldn’t save from being a complete flop.

That is until his snickering and propensity for pulling over the baking flour give him away quicker than that little matchbox car flies through the air with a cataclysmic Crack! to my forehead. The hazards of parenting a toddler. It’s a dangerous game, and just when I thought I’d finally identified and indemnified every possible liability, every cabinet caper from here to the wheat belt, the baking flour bandit outdid himself and bested me again. I swear, this kid needs an ankle monitor, or I need to get rid of that flour. For the love of gluten, I don’t even bake. Just wait till I have to start locking up the liquor, I think to myself.

Toddler proofing, as it turns out, is no joke. One would have thought that after three kids, I might have been moderately prepared with those no-skid socks, the little covers for the outlets (which I bought but somehow lost) so he doesn’t accidentally stick his fingers in places they shouldn’t be, and locks for the cabinets (don’t get me started).

But Junior’s a little like Jack Jack from Incredibles, and although he’s yet to spontaneously combust or magically teleport himself, he is fully capable of opening the back door and well on his way to cracking open the childproof bottle of Tylenol.

I’m frightened. Every waking minute of my day, in fact, is spent making sure he doesn’t catapult face-first off the back of the couch or allow the better half of his little matchbox cars to meet a flushable fate as he dangles dangerously close to the open toilet, making a series of vrooming and zooming noises. Dear Abby, my son thinks he’s a tractor.

He’s a transportation guy, for sure. The wheels are always turning, and living on the corner of Cannon Rd. and the Indianapolis Speedway has proven to be a fresh kind of hell, possibly on par with putting a coconut latte in my hand and telling me not to consume it. Temptation. It’s all around us. He’s as desperate as a Labrador retriever to chase those vehicles.

“We need a fence,” I tell Jon later.

“A fence?”

I nod, adding more baby-proof products (I’m confident will allow me to sit with that latte for the better part of 45 seconds) to my Amazon cart. “Yeah. Not a big fence…just like a few hundred feet and nothing expensive …” I say, watching his pupils like dollar signs cha-ching at the mere suggestion. “We’ll just fence in the yard,” I say matter of factly, patting myself on the back, like, why did I not think of this before? Just 400 feet of fencing installed at the house we don’t even own … um, no-brainer.

“No problem,” he says. “I’ll just get our landscaper to install that for you. Tomorrow ok? I know you have your massage scheduled, and was the pedicure today or Thursday? I know I have it in my calendar, the one we have synced cause we’re so in sync, baby … like a rockin’ 90s band, and you know what, honey? You look tired. Why don’t you just put your feet up and I’ll go install these baby gates we purchased roughly two years ago when you were still pregnant and dreaming we’d be living in a three-bedroom condo by now or that I’d suddenly shapeshift into Milo Ventimiglia … okay?”

“Okay,” I echo, staring at him blankly because, really, he’s said none of that, and I’m just standing there, still covered in flour, fishing a Ford Fusion out of the flusher, slugging down coffee I’m relatively sure was from this morning but might be from two days ago, while Jack Jack Junior makes haste with the Tylenol quicker than he disappeared into the cabinet just hours earlier, and then the phone is ringing and Jon is handing it to me.

“It’s my mother,” he mouths.

I open the cabinet door wide. I could totally fit inside.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“I’m starring in a movie.”

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.