Toddler Tipping and Taco Tuesdays

Derek Haake Email

One of my two daughters, Emma, sat at the dinner table kicking the table while in her highchair and rocking back and forth. She just turned two, so her logic and reasoning capabilities are far from developed, but nonetheless, I warned her repeatedly that she would get hurt if she kicked her chair back and tipped herself over. My warnings went unheeded, and it was back into the kitchen to finish up the tacos for Taco Tuesday – a new tradition at the Haake household.

To give you a brief background about what happened next, three weeks before Christmas my mother came into town and treated us – and the babies – to a relatively nice dinner at a decent restaurant, a place that had highchairs (technically – because it took them a while to find the second one, I’m guessing they weren’t a highly demanded commodity). At this dinner, my other daughter pulled the same stunt that Emma was at the dinner table. Since my mother lives about 450 miles away, dinner drew out, we delayed ordering, and my two year olds got fussy really quickly, and tired of being in their chairs. The noises began, and so did the stares / glares from seemingly all four corners of the room. When the noises quieted down, the tipping began, Kate began kicking her feet off the table and rocking her highchair. She thought it was the best thing in the world, and after the glares stopped, I chose to allow the now quiet toddler to do whatever she wanted so I could engage my mother in conversation.

Suddenly, a wham, I spin around, and see my daughter stuffed, still in the highchair, into the corner of the room we had been preemptively (but to no real effect) banished to. I stood in awe, and reached down to right the highchair, which is now wedged between the wall and the rather large, cumbersome and really heavy table, which is further wedged in by my wife and mother. Attempting to lift the table, while still sitting in the chair (because the highchair – also wedged against the table is now pinning my leg against my chair) turns out to be a horrible idea, and as the wails start to echo from the baby. With the pain comes adrenaline, and within seconds I had the highchair righted, and thankfully the baby was completely unscathed – scared out of her mind (and lets be thankful for once that she wasn’t potty trained yet) – but fine.

Enter taco Tuesday. A stern warning is cast one last time as I check on the taco meat. I don’t hear the thud; there is no yelling or screaming. Tacos are done and I make the plates for the kids. I walk in and give Kate – the one who has never again kicked herself off of the table while in a highchair, and she immediately begins to devour the taco. I walk to the other side of the table, and find Emma, tilted back against the very edge of the bench in my dining room behind my table, about a foot and a half off the ground. I stop; her very wide eyes slowly cast their way towards me. I couldn’t tell if she had just fallen back, or if she was that terrified. She was emotionless, and then after realizing she was completely OK, laughter bellowed out of me. I caught myself and said, sternly, “I told you this would happen”, and she responded (as she does now with) “No, no, you know better”. I have no idea if she fully comprehends what she is saying, but it has become her go-to phrase with me lately.

So now the question of the day is presented. What did I do next, knowing that my daughter is fine? Did I help her up, or did I call to the wife (who had also been warning her about kicking back in her highchair). The answer is I called to the wife. When the wife didn’t answer, I picked up the camera and took pictures for posterity. I righted Emma and then immediately served up her taco, which she inhaled. In hindsight am I a bad parent for grabbing the camera instead of helping out the poor thing? The wife was rather glad I took the pictures.