The Real Reason You Should Never, Ever Leave a 3-Year-Old in Charge

I committed a cardinal sin.

Despite all the warnings, all the posted signage, all the horror stories – I, Kelly Bandas, left my baby unattended on a changing table.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I’ve done this about a hundred times before. And before you get all indignant and call DCS on me, no, I’ve never left him on one of those Koala Care numbers in a Panera bathroom; just the (I thought) very safe changing table in his bedroom, which comes complete with a 6″ guardrail.

Here, he would be safe from his brother whacking him with a plastic guitar, or a baseball bat or a fire engine, while, for just one minute, Mommy ran and brushed her teeth.

“Sing your brother a song!” I called as I quickly ran out of the room to scrub this morning’s coffee off my currently not-so-pearly whites. We would be out the door in minutes. Early enough to grab a quick hot chocolate on the way to preschool. A surprise treat for Oliver.

“What a great mom I am.” I thought as I smiled at myself in the mirror. “Carving out time every day for a little fun. Look at me go.”


I dropped my toothbrush in the sink and ran into Archie’s room. The boys lay in a heap on top of each other on the floor. Both hurt. Both crying. Both wanting their mommy. The same mommy who had left a 3-year-old in charge of his baby brother (which, I’m pretty sure is the very first thing they tell you not to do in Parenting Two Kids 101). Apparently, in his efforts to sing Archie a song, Oliver had attempted to climb up the changing table, which, lemme tell you, was not his best idea.

So now I’ve got these two kids, both screaming. One (Oliver) who I’m like 99.999% sure is totally fine, and the other who I want to rush to the emergency room because in the last month, he’s fallen off a bed twice and I’m pretty sure I’ve already ruined him for life. I scoop up the littlest Bandas and he pops his own thumb into his mouth and calms down within 15 seconds. Still, the panic sets in and as I realize that I’m not going to feel better until I get Archie checked out by his pediatrician, a completely separate wave of panic washes over me when I realize I’m going to have to explain how Archie came to hit his head. Is there a version of this story that doesn’t end with me looking like a totally inept mother?

No. No, there isn’t.

However, in my defense, much like a Crash Test Dummy, Oliver came equipped with a helmet for months 6-12 of his life, (You know, the kind that supposedly reshapes the flat spot on the back of a baby’s head while simultaneously making it smell like the inside of a damp hockey skate?) essentially idiot-proofing the most dangerous portion of his infancy. These head-banging incidences were not on my radar the first go-around.

Yeah, yeah I know. No excuses. Play like a champion. I’m not saying this whole thing wasn’t my fault. All I’m saying is that when I only had one, helmet-wearing child, being a mom was, like, at least 38.5% easier.

Long story a little bit less long, the doctor says Archie is fine – “These things happen.” She says. “It’s a good thing God made our heads so hard. It’s a perfect design, isn’t it?” Holding back a tidal wave of emotions, only a relieved mother can feel, I resist the urge to fall into her arms and ugly cry all over her lab coat.

Everything is fine. These things happen.



  1. Wonderfully written and hilarious

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