Our house has become quite the obstacle course. Since Stella became pretty mobile, we’ve basically created one giant pen using a variety of safety gates. She has free access to the living room/foyer, hall, and her room. It’s a pretty good system, allowing her a nice amount of square footage for baby activities and yet keeping us from having to babyproof every square inch of the house (or causing me to clean daily, which is a daunting idea after working all day and trying to feed and clothe everyone).
For the most part, the gates have become part of the ecosystem. The cats were flummoxed at first, but gradually got used to them (one, in particular, is not the brightest or most athletic cat I’ve ever owned…. it took him some time to figure out that he could, in fact, jump 2.5’ over the fence). We usually can simply step over them without thinking anymore. There are some moments, however, where the gates are problematic.
For starters, we occasionally get too distracted or get going to fast and don’t quite clear them. I’m not talking about falling flat on our asses. I’m just talking about a nice deep bone bruise in your foot. Then there’s been the recent holiday, in which we entertained. Some guests aren’t necessarily comfortable leaping nimbly over the gates. What does Miss Manners suggest here? I’m really not sure. Sure, you can take them down and put them right back up each time a guest crosses a threshold, but come on… When you’re basting turkey and stirring dressing, it’s hard to monitor that kind of behavior. And the kid is quick. Don’t think you can leave it down for “a minute” and won’t find her eating your wedding ring in your non-babyproofed bedroom or splashing in the commode.
Then there are the afore-mentioned cats. As cats are wont to do, they often get rowdy, particularly when the temp falls or a storm front moves through. They are far from graceful, catapulting their furry butts over the gates. In the middle of the night, it kind of sounds like a brick wrapped in a down comforter being thrownback and forth through the house. Worst of all, they like to follow me back to our bedroom whenever I go, causing them to whomp up and down the hall past a (once upon a time) sleeping Stella.
I’m tempted to write a letter to HGTV, begging for a free home makeover. I think this sounds good:
We just had a baby and are therefore poor in funds. However, we are rich in ideas. We’d like to invite you to come to our home and make some improvements at our suggestion. We’d like to landscape the yard, removing all fire ants and sticks so our little girl can go out and play. A fence would be included, of course, matching the screened-in porch you’ll also be installing. We have an unfinished room we’d like to convert to a sun room/office, compete with abundant storage. Our kitchen and bathroom floors are ugly. We need new ones. Preferably something without grout that constantly looks dirty no matter how much I mop. You can change that when you update our master bath, removing that horrendous pink tile as soon as you can arrange for a dumpster. You can also throw out our old single-paned windows when it arrives, replacing them with new, energy-efficient windows. Also, we’d like retractable baby gates that can slide in and out of the walls via a switch (think automatic pocket doors, on a midget scale). I’d rather have a wall switch, as Stella will steal remotes and eat them. Beyond that, any other improvements would be at your discretion. Thanks!”