Lady Of The Manor: Are Boys The Only Ones Who Destroy Sh*t?

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Kiddie-proofing stores are popping up in cities around the globe. But are they for keeping children safe – or just out of trouble? The safety gates, magnets and locks might be put to better use if they actually kept your stuff safe (from your kids, that is). I’ve tried it all and I no longer think it’s possible to even “child-proof” your home. At least not mine.

Sure, you can put child locks on your cupboards and drawers. But show me a kid who hasn’t broken in, and I’ll show you one who hasn’t tried. When our first child started crawling, we put the entire house under lock down. Meanwhile, our son happily welded knives freed from child-proofed drawers and sprayed down down walls with cleaning supplies liberated from beneath the kitchen sink. Actually, the only ones who couldn’t pry open the trash were the grown-ups!

Boy number two was less into the stuff that could be locked down, and more into water. Preferably our dog’s. He was into food, too. Still, no harm, no foul. He also enjoyed cosmetics: creams, powders, make-up, shaving cream. But he never touched a razor, thankfully, nor did he manage to ingest anything (that we know of). He came through unscathed.

And then came our third son. We knew we were in for it when he managed to grab a supposedly out-of-reach cup of tea off the kitchen counter. One ambulance ride, two Kevlar bandage sleeves, six weeks of regular hospital appointments and 12 months of shade later, his second-degree burn scar is now his badge of courage. And my badge of shame. Unless someone asks, it’s hardly something we’d ever brag about.

And yet other parents are going online to post photos of shit their kids have ruined. From their homes to themselves, the litany of destruction is proudly posted at – you guessed it –

How mortifying! The site consists mostly of spilled powder, shmeared peanut butter and the odd bit of broken glass. It’s a real ambulance-chaser of a website. I can’t help but wonder – are we supposed to be laughing “at” or “with”? I flipped through and noticed a lot of these mini weapons of mass destruction are boys. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

I know lots of girls who have butchered their Barbies and then given themselves copy-cat hairdos. They’ve manicured cats and dressed up dogs. But have they really destroyed anything?

I asked around and the answer is a resounding “no” in terms of the daughters. When it comes to the sons, however, a far different picture emerges – usually all over the walls.  The catalogue of wreckage is vast, including, but not limited to, the following:

Magic marker art all over duvet, bed, and box spring; computer keyboard keys jimmied off and left to rot under a couch; toilet brushes gone walkabout – after being used to force entire rolls down the pipes; plungers as swords on couch battlegrounds; antiques denuded of ornamentation; flowers plucked and plants murdered; scissors used to cut clothes  – while wearing them…

And the list goes on.

Maybe these little destructive moments are character builders and resilience markers – for us, not our kids. After all, they are who they are. Our son who was burned still has a penchant for hot beverages, natural consequences be damned. As we discover defrosted freezers and cut-up window treatments, we smile, knowing it’s a phase. And then we take comfort in the fact that we still have our humor. At least until the kids ruin that shit, too.