The Baby Gates

As Charbel’s one year birthday drew closer, and little Paul’s due date approached, I began thinking about baby gates. With Charbel’s increasing mobility and the impossibility of staying beside him all the time because of a second baby, we were going to need the stairs blocked off, to rest assured that Charbel wouldn’t climb upstairs or trip and fall on the stairs while our backs were turned.

Here in Kurdistan, baby gates aren’t regularly available in the stores; local carpenters make and install them, so we talked to a carpenter recommended to us and ordered baby gates. In my mind, I pictured little white slats that nicely complemented the décor of our home… So you can imagine my chagrin the day the carpenter came to install his “baby gates”: solid slabs of bright orange wood. They’re quite an eyesore and standout even more because they greatly contrast with the hues of the rest of the house. So, I set about trying to improve them in some manner and make them look more like baby gates.

My solution was to make foam cutouts following different themes  – numbers, shapes and letters, animals, fruits, etc. – that would  both entertain Charbel and help him learn things as he grows. I wish the outcome signified a late blossoming of artistic genius; in reality, however, it merely testifies to the skill needed to run Google searches, select, print, trace and cut.


At one point, while I was diligently tracing and cutting out the foam figures, my husband mentioned that it would be easier and faster to just print out colored pictures and tape or glue them to the gates. I answered somewhat defensively that printed pictures wouldn’t match each other well and would be too easy for Charbel to rip and pull off. Thinking about it afterwards, however, I realized that my real defense for the time I put into the figures for the baby gates lies in the heart of a mother. I believe every mother can testify that a deep satisfaction comes from personally making things for their children. This pleasure can’t come from just buying or giving them things; it’s a fulfilling satisfaction that comes from knowing that the outcome has been personalized for the child by your love.

After completing the baby gates, it was definitely rewarding to watch Charbel excitedly hasten toward them, and hear his ooh-oohs and other cooings as he looked at the different colors and shapes, and ran his fingers over the foam.  Here’s to hoping they don’t lose their appeal too quickly!

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