It was Thursday. It was the afternoon. We were in the kitchen. I was at the sink washing up some dishes. Ryan was playing on the floor. Leila was behind the baby gate, standing on the stairs to the basement, whining. Ryan crawled over to the baby gate and was sitting there, taunting Leila and giggling when she licked his fingers. I turned around to check on Ryan approximately every 30 seconds. He was occupying himself with the dog, rattling the baby gate, and playing with shoes by the back door. I repeat, I turned around to look at him every 30 seconds.

One time, I turn around. He’s not there.

I was sure he just crawled a little further out of my sight and was hiding around the corner by the back door. I quickly walk over there. HE’S NOT THERE. Split second of panic on my part. How can a baby vanish out of thin air in his own home? Then my stomach dropped. Gut-wrenching realization set in that if I didn’t see him, he somehow got beyond the baby gate. Which, I failed to mention, is at the top of a flight of fifteen stairs. I turn around. There he is, my baby boy, at the second step from the top, on his belly, looking at me like he had no care in the world, about ready to grab the dog’s leash. Leila’s there too, panting at the baby gate and looking at me like this happens everyday. I got that baby gate open as fast as possible and scooped up my little guy and hugged him tight.

Ryan’s gotten very fast and coordinated crawling up the stairs. But he needs someone there all the time. He still loses his balance and falls backwards. I couldn’t get the image out of my head of him tumbling head over teakettle down our steep basement stairs. And then the question remained: How DID he get beyond the baby gate? Well there’s no way he had climbed it, because he’s just not that capable yet. And no doubt if he had managed to climb to the top of it, there’s no way he would have gotten down without a loud commotion (and large injury). We figure he slid UNDER the gate. And I’ll admit, we (as in his parents) are not entirely innocent here. The baby gate is not installed exactly to standard. It’s higher than it should be because we have one type of baseboard trim on one side of the stairs, and another type (of a different thickness) on the other side of the stairs. And so it would be impossible to get the gate to line up correctly and mounted to the wall without some major handiwork. And let’s just say, no one in our house is capable of major handiwork. So the gate’s installed higher than it should be so that it could be mounted to the wall and not baseboard. And apparently it’s just high enough for a Ryan head to fit through, no prob.

No more independent playing at the baby gate for this guy.