April 7, 2011


A note:  This post will be liberally filled with links to poems, as this is National Poetry Month.

As you might recall, I have been having some trouble when it comes to getting my children to go to sleep recently.

That said, they're sleeping right now.  We've got a new bedtime routine.  Baths happen EVERY NIGHT, this winds them down and mellows them out... sort of.  Then we play in our pajamas for a while.  Then we read a story.  Then, while I tuck them into bed, turn out lights, and generally take care of the end-of-day things around their room, I sing a lullabye.  SI will lay down and listen to the whole thing, and as a result she passes out as soon as I leave the room- turning on the lullabye CD on my way out.  DD doesn't have anyone to play with if SI is asleep, so she goes to sleep as well.  And I get to drink a cup of tea/eat dinner/do homework/write/pass out in peace.  I feel like order has returned to the universe.

So tonight was nice and simple.  In fact, we had a remarkably lovely evening.  But SI decided that, after many months of complete neglect, it was time to go and test all of my toddler-proofing theories.

As you may or may not be aware, my home is full of books.  I mean, seriously full of books.  There are books in every single room, except the kitchen.  And the only reason there are no books in the kitchen is that our kitchen is shaped really strangely and has no storage space.  But someday, I'll be mounting a shelf somewhere... somehow... and it will be covered in books.

Our books are fairly well organized.  The literature, comic books, Engineering reference material (technically in M's office), and  oversized coffee table books are in the living room, the non-fiction, poetry, drama, reference, and sheet music is in the dining room, the costuming/pattern drafting materials are in the guest room/sewing room, the art books and old journals are in the studio, the "currently reading" and parenting sections are in the Master bedroom, the children's books (of which there are too many to fit on the shelves) are in the nursery, and the cookbooks are in the dining room as close as possible to the kitchen.  Even the bathrooms have books in them.

Got all that down?

So that's a lot of books.  Our friends DREAD helping us move our three crates of dictionaries.

This leads me to the million dollar question... How do you keep your toddlers from pulling all the books off the shelves and destroying them?

The good news?  Our kids don't seem interested in destroying books.  They want to read them.  Sure, they get disappointed when they realize that almost the entire Vonnegut collection is un-illustrated, but they don't tear out pages in frustration.  They just grab another.  And another.

Up until today, my plan for babyproofing the bookshelves had worked really well.  It was very simple- CRAM the books onto the shelf so tightly that it's difficult for an adult, let alone a toddler, to extract one.

This is easier said than done.  What's more, this is not good for the books.  But it had been working.

Unfortunately, it seems that SI has discovered that this method leads to an extremely fun game.  Yank as hard as you can on a book for as long as it takes, and then when it finally comes FLYING out of the shelf, it takes the neighboring six books with it.  The rewards on the book-extracting investments are extremely high.  This is a worthwhile enterprise.

What this is, frankly, is a problem.  In one hour alone, I rescued everything in the Literature section from Tyler to Welsh about four times.  I rescued everything from Hamilton to Harrison another two times.  And then once we moved into the dining room, I had to save about a quarter of the biography/memoir section.  Twice.

And SI just wants to sit down with a book and flip through the pages.  She wants to sit down with an old, dog-eared copy of Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and just smell the pages.

I can't argue with her. I love the smell of old books.  But I can't have her just pulling books off of shelves.  This is a bad game.  And in this house, it's a game that could go on forever.

And I LIKE my books.  I might trust her not to demolish them on purpose... but that doesn't mean I'm going to give her the chance.

So I'm at a loss.  How does one protect a small library when it lives with two toddlers?

Especially a super-villain in training like SI.  M seems to think the only solution is to pack up all of our books into boxes.

This is going to require a little bit of... thought.  Too bad that's where SI excels.  She's a champion thinker.  She's going to find a way.  All she needs is a little time.

I am extremely proud that my daughters are so enamored of books.  They absolutely LOVE books.  Books are their favorite things around- next to Mommy and Daddy and their stuffed frogs.  But they would always rather read a book than play with a toy, watch TV, or eat.

I just know that for the rest of their childhoods, their noses are going to be buried in books.  And I'm very happy about that.  We're always reading together, when they're a bit bigger we'll move on to picture-free story books, and chapter books.

And when they're old enough to really understand or enjoy digging into my "grown-up" books, they will be more than welcome to them.  I'll hook them up with some Atwood and some Rushdie and some some Hesse as soon as I think they'd be into it.  But not today.  Probably in more like a decade.

...so long as the books can survive until then.


  1. Hi fellow susper mommy! I am so honored you featured my blog and I could not find your e mail address to properly thank you.

    So here is my thanks and I am so glad you re enjoying my stories, I do like reading your blog. You have some great tales and awesome energy.

    Thanks again,

    Summer Dawn

  2. Give M an afternoon and a few supplies from the home depot and I bet that smart engineer of yours can come up with a way to put doors on the bookshelves.

  3. A crossbar across each shelf, attached by some kind of thumb/finger screw at each end, would be my first attempt, I think. It depends a lot on what you have at the end of each shelf, though.

  4. By baby-proofing, you made pulling books into a fun game. So I would keep your most important book or two out of reach and stop baby-proofing. After the initial attempt to eat a board book, Raphael has always been very nice to our books and the books at the library and the books at Borders.



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