Protecting Penny




When I can’t sleep in the middle of the night and am in that half-awake, half-asleep state, my imagination starts to run wild and I think of all the things that could happen to my kids and how I can prevent it or rescue them.

Fire in the house is always a big one for me. As my mom will tell you, ever since the firemen visited our grade school, I’ve been scared of not being able to escape from a house fire. Now I worry I will escape but won’t be able to get the girls out. In my mind, the fire is always in the hallway between our rooms, preventing me from running in there and dropping them safely out the window. The windows in their room are too high to reach from the ground without a ladder, so I’ll have to waste precious time getting the ladder once I get out our bedroom window. And, with both cars in the garage, I will not be easily able to get the ladder that we store on the side of the SUV. Once I’m able to get the ladder from the garage to the front of the house into the bushes below their room, I imagine I’m unable to break the window, so I’ll have to remember to grab a hammer or something to break it with. I always imagine their panicked little eyes, tears streaming down their faces, screaming for me as they pound on the windows, unable to open them.

Clearly, I have an over-active imagination. But as a parent, as soon as you leave the hospital you start to worry about how to protect your child from the all the bad things in the world: car accidents, abductions, getting burned by the stove, falling against the table and splitting their head open, the list is endless.

The one thing I didn’t think of was how to protect Penelope from her big sisters. They love her (well, Ella mostly loves her, unless she’s jealous), but they’re so small they don’t quite understand how to be gentle.

Samantha is generally okay. The biggest problem with her is when she wants to hold the baby. She imagines the baby is uncomfortable and wants to move her around. She is physically strong enough to lift Penelope, but she is too small to support her head, so as Samantha shifts her, Penny’s head lolls about while I try to support it and remind Sam not to try to move the baby. “But Mom, she didn’t like it like that”.

Ella presents more of a problem. She’s a more physical child to begin with, so a kiss may end with a head butt. She also is jealous at times and will pinch, scratch, and hit Penny given the opportunity. Today I was cleaning Moon Sand off the table outside and had set Penny, sleeping in her carseat, behind me. I heard Ella say “Rocka, rocka, rocka” and turned to see her sitting in the carseat, on top of Penny, rocking back and forth. Penny slept through the whole thing without making a sound (and without injury).

On top of trying to manage three small children and meet their constant needs, I have to remember to protect Penny from her sisters. When she’s awake, I carry her in the Bjorn. Setting her down results in injury. When she sleeps, be it in her bassinet, carseat, or bouncy chair, she is in our room, safely behind a baby gate. If I do need to set her down when she’s awake, for example, to change Ella’s diaper, it has to be in her crib. I’m doing an okay job so far, no hospital trips, yet. But, Penny does have a few scratches and red marks on her face from when I thought I could get dinner ready with the two older girls in front of the television and Penny in the kitchen in the bouncy seat. (Ella really moves fast for a relatively novice walker.)

I’m waiting to see how it goes as Penny becomes more awake and wants to not be restrained all the time. My guess is she’s going to become one tough little kid.

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