The Preschooler Security Agency

Fern had a little cut on her toe yesterday, and somewhere in the periphery of my toddler-addled brain I heard her friends — over for a playdate — plan to put a bandage on it.

“How cute,” I thought, as I continued to play with little Claudia. “They’re going to find her a Band-Aid.”

It goes without saying that we have boxes of bandages strewn about the house, of course, in a roughly equal mix of superhero and guileless pink characters, so I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I noticed they’d broken into the “safe closet” to get the grown-up first aid kit.

The “safe closet,” you say?

Now, I’m all in favor of teaching kids the rules rather than locking things away. Even so, I’ve fastened a sash lock five feet off the ground on one of our closets, the better to store all the medicine, tasty skin lotion, and plutonium capsules we have lying around.

Call me a helicopter parent if you will, but we keep our nukes secure, dammit.

Somehow without my noticing (and it’s not exactly a big house), the kids had piled up some furniture, scaled the door (did I mention that it’s at the top of the stairs?), released the lock, and got into the serious first aid kit I keep therein. Fortunately, I’d used up the last suture needle last week, but still, the incident made me think simultaneously:

a. The kids in question are four and above; do I really need to worry that they’ll nick something that “looks like candy” and eat it? (Yeah, probably, I do.)

b. Who sees a high-up locked door as a challenge? Don’t normal people just ask to be given the dratted Band-Aids?

c. Why do these normally docile kids act so mischievous sometimes?

The answer seems to be in numbers: on her own, Fern doesn’t often think to break into closets — she asks for help. Having other kids around turns her into a little instigator, and makes her susceptible to become the instigatee, too.

And does that bother me? Not in the slightest. Assuming we can get through childhood without too many trips to the emergency department, I love that Fern is forming a little gang with her friends — independent, ready to solve problems, and just a little rebellious.

Call me crazy, but last night when they dumped paint on the garage floor (and then tried to clean it up on their own, the darlings!), I could barely suppress a little smile of pride.

Panic is for the weak.