When we first moved into our current house, Kiddo was 13 months old. Not quite walking, but he could motor when he wanted to. And here we were surrounded by boxes and disassembled furniture. The first thing I did, the night before we moved in, was put up a long baby gate (This one). Not the prettiest of the gates we've used, but great for a large area.) across one end of the basement. It was the 'safe zone' if I had to leave Kiddo unattended (even mom's have to pee) during the move-in, unpack chaos.
We've been here over a year and I still don't have pictures on the walls. At this rate I figure we'll be entirely kid proofed and decorated in time for Kiddo to start high school. But, over the last year, the upper level of our house has evolved into a much more kid-friendly state. Kiddo is also old enough that it's no longer catastrophic if he makes a break for the stairs when my back is turned.
The gated part of the basement has remained, however. Partly this is because 'safe zone' morphed almost immediately into 'toy zone' and the gate keeps the duplo blocks and train cars somewhat contained. It still serves as a safe zone on occasion too. It keeps Kiddo out of the yet-to-be-kid-proofed parts of the basement (ahem, Husband's den) in the event he's happily playing down there and it's time for me to go make lunch. As was the case on this particular day.
I told Kiddo I had to go upstairs. Usually, he wants to be wherever I am. Well, actually, he wants me to be wherever he is--not quite the same thing. But when I gave him the choice between coming with me, or continuing to play with his trains, he chose his trains and didn't fuss when I left and closed the gate behind me.
From the kitchen I can hear the train wheels running on the tracks along with other happily playing kid noises. Unless I hear a crash and/or scream, I can generally assume all is well. Still, there was something about those squeals of delight, and the accompanying thumps, that made be pause in the midst of lunch preparation. It was one of those 'I think I'll just go check' moments.
I returned to the basement to find the cat cowering in the middle of the toy zone while Kiddo jumped up and down shrieking in front of her face. He wasn't hurting her, but she was clearly not enjoying this game as much as he was.
I can only assume the cat was already within the gated boundary when I left. This cat, capable of reaching the dining table, kitchen counter, or the top of my 5-foot dresser in one leap, has not yet realized she can jump over the 32-inch baby gate. I find this bewildering and wonder, if I left them be, how long she would remain confined with an exuberant Kiddo before making the attempt.
I decided against leaving the cat to her own devices (this time) and opened the gate. With her spine as low to the ground as it could go, the cat bolted past my legs. Kiddo tried to follow but, alas, his legs are no match for a frantic feline.