If you’re a soon-to-be parent I strongly suggest you take a diploma in how to operate child gates.
Me? I can barely figure them out.
When guests come round it takes us 10 minutes to escort them from the front door to the living room.
I’m sure some of them have considered simply hurdling the gates rather than waste any more of their precious time trying to determine how to release the safety catch.
It’s probably quicker and easier getting through security and customs at an airport than it is through the Howards’s impregnable adult-proof security system.
Even little Louie understands them better than I do and he’s the very person we’re trying to keep out.
I’ve no doubt he will have completely mastered them by the time he turns three.
I’ll still be confused by them when I turn 103.
Once the little man’s fully conquered them it is anybody’s guess what we’ll then use to prevent him either climbing into the washing machine or popping his head into the oven.
To set the scene, we have about half-a-dozen of these lovely white eyesores in our house.
The barriers are so ugly they have transformed our home into a kind of luxury, toy-filled prison.
Unfortunately, nobody ever warned me that the gates would also prevent fathers getting from one room to the next, just as much as they do children.
Or perhaps it’s just my ineptitude on display here?
Equally unfortunately for me, four of our gates are completely different to one another.
And all four have vastly differing opening mechanisms.
You pull one up while pushing it forward and on another you have to push down while pulling it towards you.
If you get either of those around the wrong way, you end up on your backside or the gate crashes to the floor and becomes a temporary cattle grid.
Occasionally both occur at the same time.
At this point, apart from being totally exasperated, you become momentarily trapped beneath the cattle grid while a one-year-old tramples over the top of you.
I guess it would be too simple and not nearly as much fun for the manufacturers to come up with a standard operating system.
The companies which produce them should get together at some point and discuss a one-for-all catch.
It would greatly benefit incapable people like me.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the other two types of gate in our house, suffice to say I’m still trying to get the better of them.
CONVICT DIGS TO AUSTRALIA
Our neighbours could be forgiven for thinking we had someone completing community payback in our garden. At least, Louie was doing a very good impression of it.
He’d finished breakfast and decided to go out dressed only in his convict-style black and white striped pyjamas.
It was 8am and a chilly October morning, but that wasn’t enough to stop him sneaking through the back door and marching down the garden.
Minus footwear he strode towards his plastic trowel and continued towards a flower bed. When he arrived he made an emergency stop good enough to impress a driving instructor and then started digging a large hole.
Australia seemed his destination as he furiously dug out as much soil as his toddler hands, and equally small trowel, would allow.
He seemed intent on making a trench large enough for an underground car park for his trike.
It only lasted a matter of minutes though before boredom set in and he trundled back indoors.
The same morning he decided our empty dishwasher needed a thorough clean.
Questioning who had turned it on, we glanced across the living room to see a little boy proudly pointing towards the kitchen.
The inside of our machine is now gleaming.