The Three Year Old and the Shredder

I have learned over the years that kids tend to practice what they learn. My first lesson came when I was ten. My sister was three. I had this Barbie Beauty Parlor. My Barbie had a lot of wigs which you could style and dry. There was a pink beauty parlor style hair dryer that ran on batteries. Pretty cool stuff for 1965.

Enter my sister, age three. She had just learned how to cut with scissors and one day, while I was at school, she decided to demonstrate her skills. On my Barbie wigs.

I wasn’t very happy.

You can’t anticipate everything a kid will get into.

My son told me earlier this week that while he was tending something on a different floor of his house, his son decided to use the checkbook as scrap paper. Annoying, but not a disaster, you know? Then RJ decided to shred some checks. He had seen his daddy use the cross-cut shredder, and it was neat. My son, in his fatherly wisdom, turned the shredder off. One would think that would have been enough.


Yesterday morning, my son and his wife were looking for their Christmas cash, which they had placed in an envelope. The envelope was on top of a $700 check they had not yet deposited. When my daughter-in-law could not find it, my son came down to look. And when he saw his daddy looking at the shredder, three-year-old RJ threw himself on the floor and began to cry.

It was obvious that there was cash in the shredder’s basket, and my son and daughter-in-law figure that’s where the check went as well. The check can be reissued. Their Christmas money, in a cross-cut shredder, was a total loss.  You can go here if you want to offer my son some sympathy.

These are the moments which try a parent’s soul. If our parents had told us how hard it was to parent, would we have had children? Would we have believed them?

My son tried to be cavalier about the whole thing. $110 wasn’t such a big loss, he said. But it is, especially when you are young with kids. And bills.

I don’t have a big moral for this story. I remember thinking, when I heard about things like this and my kids weren’t yet crawling, that such happenings were the result of parental inattention. Then, in a humbling moment, RJ’s daddy, then twenty months old, climbed up onto the high shelf where my husband and I thought the aspirin was safe. In less than the time it took me to change his sister’s diaper. I still remember the panic I felt when he entered his sister’s bedroom munching happily on what he called “yucky vitamins.”

Good parents want to protect their children from the dangers the world has to offer. Problem is, the kids have minds of their own. At least RJ wasn’t hurt. And obviously his daddy survived the aspirin (thanks to ipecac syrup). I guess all we can do is be thankful.

And pray for strength and patience.


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December 2005
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