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I have five children, ranging from teen to toddler. The youngest is three and…well…part crazy. It’s not his fault, though. He was born into a chaotic, loud home. He had to be part-crazy to keep up.

When he was two he learned how to climb out of his crib. Five kids and he was the first to master this skill. So I decided to make my own contraption to go over the crib. Rookie mistake. When he still got out, I bought a crib tent, one that was designed by a professional who has dealt with escape-artist children like mine. It fastened on top of the crib with the intent of keeping the child in, like baby jail—don’t judge me, I needed my sleep. That worked for about a month. When he broke it (literally), I gave in. Crib gone. Toddler bed in.

But that same child had also mastered opening doors. I tried child-safety locks, and he’d rip them off. So I started putting him in his bed and holding the door until he fell asleep. Three in the morning I would hear–thankfully–little footsteps going downstairs to find a ball to play with. Not only was it frustrating, it wasn’t safe considering the complete lack of self-preservation this little boy has.

In an act of pure desperation one afternoon, I grabbed a screwdriver and figured out how to take apart my bathroom door handle (with lock) and exchange it for his bedroom one.

Broken child-proof locks

The first time I locked him in, he played for a little bit and then conked out. I patted myself on the back for outwitting a two-year-old. The next day he simply played with his toys the whole nap time. I, in turn, moved all his toys to the hallway. The next day, he dumped all the books off the bookshelf. Those followed the toys into the hall. The following day I heard a lot of loud, jumping happy noises. Still, I needed my time away from my little monster (I say that affectionately) and so I left him in there for some ‘quiet’ time. When I went in to get him, he’d dumped all the clothes and drawers out of his dresser and was trying on anything that had a ball on it. You would think at some point I’d learn. Anyway, I completely cleared every toy, book, shirt, pants and possible item from his room except his bed and his blankets.

When he fell asleep that afternoon, I patted myself on the back for having finally outwitted my two-year-old.

That worked for about a month.

I was writing at my desk one day when I heard a little squeak behind me. I turned and saw him on the stairs. “Hi!” he said with a big smile—he always smiles biggest when he’s doing something wrong. Figuring I had forgotten to lock his door for his nap, I took him back up the stairs. Five minutes later, he was back on the stairs, peeking through the railing. “Hi!”

I couldn’t believe it. When I put him back in his room, I waited in the hallway next to his toys, books, and clothes. After a minute, his little fingers reached under the door, yanked a few times on the bottom of the door, and somehow, got the stupid thing open. At that point, I called my parents (who laughed) and I gave him the nickname, “My Little Houdini.”

I tell you all this so you know what kind of child I’m dealing with. Don’t get me wrong, he’s adorable. A monster—but adorable. He follows his older brother and his friends around as if he’s fifteen, too. He refuses to hold my hand in public and his favorite song is by Taio Cruz, not Barney. He’s three!

Anyway, recently he picked up a new word. He says it all the time now, but unlike other new words my kids pick up, I’m not correcting this one.

It’s “Mother.”

He doesn’t call me anything else anymore. I love it! It almost sounds British when he says it, too. I know it’s probably just a phase, but I totally am eating this up. For the life of me, I can’t figure out where he picked it up. Not from my other kids. No way. Not from me either.

“Mother, I want some water.”

“Want to play basketball with me, Mother?”

“Mother, can I have 10 cookies?”

Even if he’s in the worst, crankiest mood ever, when he grabs my pant leg, looks up at me and instead of whining, “Mooommm…” he says, “Mother,” I give in. You would think that two words that have basically the same meaning would invoke the same response in me, right? Wrong! I’m spoiling him rotten right now.

If the other four kids catch onto this, I’m in for it.


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