Escape, Pillage and Destroy!

By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
guest A few weeks ago, one of my childhood friends posted a picture of her three year old on Facebook. The lovely little boy was smiling, laying in a sea of feathers, having taken apart his pillows while his Mother, a surgeon, tried to sleep in past dawn. I laughed and posted a comment,

“Reminds me of the three year old I watch.”

Why is it that some children are hell bent on destruction? My older brother was required to be on lockdown. Every door in our childhood home, including the one to the bedroom that we shared, had a high hook that only our parents could reach, therefore giving them the piece of mind that the little terror they were raising would stay in the room that they had placed him in – and stay in the house and not wander the streets of Fresh Meadows, Queens, dragging his protesting little sister (me) along. I had always thought that this level of security was completely unnecessary, and that my parents must have been amiss in their duties. Until my own charge turned three and became determined to escape, pillage, and destroy.

The first time it happened it was not on my watch. It was a weekend night, and a few hours after putting the children to sleep, Mom Boss went up to Dad Boss’ home office – a separate structure on the property - to check in on how his work was coming along. She heard a rustling in the dark by the big gate that separated their property from the street…and found her three-year-old son. On the street side. He said that he had woken up and decided to say hi to Daddy. A high hook immediately went up on his door.

My problems with him began during the day. I would have him all set up with an activity and tell him, “I’m going to go and put your clothes in the dryer. Stay right here.” I would race back to the kitchen / playroom / his bedroom after the fastest laundry change in history and find him gone. There is nothing quite like the heart in the throat moments when you race all over the house calling the name of your charge. You picture him floating in the hot tub, poised over an outlet with a screwdriver, or heartily eating the dog food. I found him that first time by the bare garden. It was April. He said, “Where are all the blueberries?”

“It’s April,” I said, “There are no blueberries yet. What are you doing outside?”

“I wanted blueberries,” he replied.

Over the summer my employers moved to a new house. One of my first calls was to Home Safety Services to baby / toddler proof the entire house. I ordered the works - including window latches and high hooks on all doors. I had to replace the basic latches for better latches after one week when the three year old undid his, and leaned far out the window to call to his older brother and myself in the yard below just after I had put him down for a nap.

“What are you guys doing?” He yelled from the second floor window, half of his body visible.

I took him with me to the fruit bowl in the kitchen, grabbed a papaya, and brought him back upstairs to his window. I held him tightly and said,

“Watch what happens to the papaya when it falls out a window”, and hurled the fruit down to the yard below. We both went down to inspect the remains.

“Wow.” He said, “It got all smashed.”

“That would be you if you fell out the window.” I said.

“That would be my head.” He said, impressed.

He got the point about the windows, but there still was some work to be done about the doors. We, the grown-ups, had to remember to keep them hooked, for example. One recent evening, just after the time change, I left the front door un-hooked after a late delivery from UPS. I was clearing the dishes from dinner when I suddenly noticed that the three year old had slipped out. I ran to the front door. It was hanging open. I ran out into the street and found the boy en route across the cul-de-sac, in the dark.

“Where do you think you’re going?” I asked him.

“I want to visit the neighbors.” He said.

“Three year olds are not allowed to leave the house by themselves.” I reprimanded.

“I’m three and three quarters!” He argued.

It could be worse. One of my favorite websites is called Shit My Kid Ruined, which is completely devoted to posting pictures of things children have destroyed the moment the parent’s back is turned. For now, I have been holding my charge back on his destructive and wandering ways by threatening the consequence of losing his trains for 24 hours for any further infractions. If that should fail, I am going to call back Home Safety Services and see if there is some sort of GPS chip they could put in his neck that I might monitor from my cell phone. ________________________________________________
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at


Phoenix said...

OMG. Yes some kids are devils but your charge is the a matermind. My sister was like this. She would just take it upon herself to leave. When she was getting off the bus one day after kindergarden my mom was watching for her out the window and saw my sister with her friends walk directly past our house. My mom runs outside and askss where she is going and she replys Katherines. She just didn't get that you need to check in and let people know where you are going. I remember once when she was 4 she ran away and hid from my parents. My mom was frantic! I've never seen anyone run the block that fast in my life. A time later My sister emerges from some bushes. We asked if she heard us and she said yes. She then said she didn't want to come out of the bushes because she liked it there. There was no rhyme or reason to what she was doing.

Bostonnanny said...

When we were that age and my brothers or I tried to do something like that my mother would hit us. She never baby proof a damn thing. baby proofing was the back of her hand. And guess what we may have tried it once but never ever did it again. Our mother was firm and we knew our boundaries with her.
My charge now tries to escape and get into things he's not suppose to but he knows better then to do it with me. I say no and he knows it means no. I have never hit him but I have always been firm on the boundaries. His parents are not strict and wonder why he is always whining and climbing everything with them.
With me their is no whining and he will be reprimanded each time he miss behaves until he learns not to do it anymore.
I did the same thing with a family I babysit for and when the parents asked their daughter why she is good with me, said "Jess, says no fussing allowed because it won't get us what we want". And I am the only sitter they would ever leave all 3 children with alone. They are so surprised that the children love me and listen to everything I say.

nycmom said...


There actually ARE implantable chips, lol! They are called VeriChip or Digital Angel. I haven't read up in a while, but I think they were designed for animal identification and medical applications. Though can of course be used for tracking and other things.

They also have GPS trackable family cell phone plans. I know ATT has a plan. I fully intend to get it when my kids have cell phones in a couple of years!

As far as babyproofing, I'm actually not a big fan. I do do basics like put dangerous chemicals and medications up high, and locks on doors. But I don't believe in safety proofing the whole living space. I find it ends up being safer for us to teach kids what they can and can't do. Not than baby proofing parents don't do that, I guess I just found baby proofing gave me false security and made me lazy.

slb3334 said...

I have a problem with locking the child in his room. 2 major reasons. 1 what if there is a fire? You think in a panic you're going to remember to unlock it? Also, how does he go to the bathroom.

slb3334 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alex said...

oh my goodness!! Talk about scary! Thankfully the worst thing my 3 yr old charge does is open the door and maybe go on the steps but by that time I have already caught him! I love the fruit out the window thing though, brilliant way to get it across to them!

Greta said...

NYC mom, I couldn't agree more! I think basic baby proofing is a good thing, i.e. outlet covers, medications, and chemicals out of reach. But you are right, it makes people lazy and puts off the task of teaching children right and wrong, dangerous, not dangerous. What ever happend to teaching limits? I feel our society is could care less.