The Cherub, as I have been whining about for about a year, has taken to destroying my books. She pulls them off the shelves wanders around with them, rips pages out or colors in them, and then leaves them all over.  This isn’t just an issue of supervision- unless you’ve dealt with a kid like the Cherub, you just don’t know.  I can take a book away from her a hundred times in an hour and she still goes back. She doesn’t get bored with it. She doesn’t really learn in anything like a timely fashion- so it could take me five years to break her of this habit (and I’m not convinced I can). It’s not like dealing with a cognitively normal kid who will outgrow it because developmentally they move on.  She won’t be moving on.

Distraction doesn’t work either.

She is at the out of sight out of mind stage of development though.  So in some rooms where she spends any amount of time I just put a sheet over the bookcase and she leaves the books in it alone.

That won’t do for my dining room, though.  So I ordered this set of curtains from ebay:

trompe l'oeil window


Now, it’s still not quite wide enough to cover all the bookcases on the wall in my dining room, so I also ordered two rattan shades in a sort of white-wash to go on either side.  Admittedly, it won’t be as pretty as my books, but my books themselves will stay prettier out of the Cherub’s hands.  So I think it’s a win.

My son, OTOH, curled his lip in scorn.

“What?” I asked.

“It won’t work,” he said.

“It will,” I pointed out, “The sheet works in my room, but I don’t want to hang sheets on the bookcases in the dining room.”

“Okay, maybe,” he conceded, “But it doesn’t look good.  It will look sort of…. tacky,” and he curled his lip in disdain.

I laughed.  “Forgive me,” I said, “if I don’t take home-making style advice from the boy who thinks animal skulls are a fashion feature.”

“It IS tacky,” he insisted.  “Ask anybody.”

So I am.

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  1. Amy
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s a great idea. I love curtains over bookcases in general, and those that you selected are wonderful. I want to put circus themed curtains on my kids’ bookshelves that have the books they have free access to and can mess up without driving me out of my mind, but we have allergies, and it would create more work than it resolve. (Regularly washing and ironing curtains we don’t need??? HA!) I’d do it in a heartbeat in your shoes.

    And as a mom of a two year old, I’m overwhelmed thinking of a “two year old” who isn’t under 3 feet tall. We simply don’t keep anything down low. The amount of work you must do is incomprehensible to me.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      She is much shorter than the average adult- so that helps. But still. She is closer to the size of a 9 year old. And more than the height issue is the *never* outgrowing this stage, never really learning and moving on. OTOH, that also means she isn’t as creative with her messes as her toddler nieces and nephews.

  2. Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s a clever idea — I don’t think I would have ever thought of anything like that. I would have been trying to figure out how to get glass-fronted doors with a lock and key, and that would be so expensive that I wouldn’t be able to afford it and then I wouldn’t know what to do besides put the child in a straight-jacket, but that’s probably not really a good idea, so I’d be back at square one.

    However, after reading your post, if I needed to do something like this, I’d go for rattan shades, or maybe Roman shades across the whole thing. The curtain is cute, but not-really-what-it-looks-like isn’t my style.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I wanted rattan shades for the whole thing, but that was a cost decision. Rattan shades for the length of those bookcases are more than twice as much as the curtain.

  3. Valerie
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Pssh. That boy, I swear. I think you’ve come up with a clever solution to what must be a thoroughly infuriating problem. Kudos, mama.

  4. Celina
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Tacky? A little. Would I still do it? YES

  5. Ruth
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I say do what works 🙂 But the fact that it looks like a door might draw her to it instead of your purpose.

  6. Sue
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Not tacky-smart. Are torn up books all over less tacky?

  7. Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Now, see…I would have just boxed them up and had empty shelves for a while. Maybe a few sacrificial books to remind her what they are. This is wonderfully creative. And I kinda like the picture curtain. 🙂

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      A while with the Cherub is forever. She is not a 2 year old who will stop doing this in six months. This will be years.

  8. Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I think if you were trying for the pages of House Beautiful or Architectural Digest he *might* have a point; however, this is a family home that seems causal country and imho it will be fine. Anyone who is invited into your home to visit will at least be somewhat acquainted with the Cherub and understand the need to have protections in place. If they don’t – since when have you ever worried about what the crowd thinks? 🙂 I like them and they are more attractive than the baby gates found in most homes. Maybe a day spent closely supervising his sister will give him a more enlightened view of home decor?

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Oh, he has had to pay to replace a school book or two he left out where she could get it.

  9. Martha
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I think the curtains are rather lovely. They add a little artistic beauty.

  10. Posted August 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Go for it, I say. The peace of mind is worth the trade off even if slightly tacky or not up to your usual decor style. Might I also suggest providing the Cherub with a box of books that is HERS to do with as she wishes? As one Mom of special needs kids to another, I freely will admit that I don”t know if her own box of books would help or not, but I’d be tempted to do it.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      We do give her magazines, newspapers, and catalogs to tear, and she has her own board books. I think putting things for her to tear in a special box that is hers might help eventually, though.

  11. Posted August 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Toddler chic is my current style so I think if it works, go for it. And I keep seeing fake book wallpaper popping up on pinterest so maybe this is the next big thing that just hasn’t hit yet!

  12. Posted August 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Since I am a rather tacky person, I will withhold my opinion. It can do you no good. 😀

  13. Tim
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    It’s not a pattern I would choose for that application, but I think ‘tacky’ is overstating the case.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      There was one I loved- it was a bookshelf pattern. I would have preferred that, but was limited by availability and price.

      • celina boulanger
        Posted August 20, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        ummmm hellooooooo LINK PLEASE…lol…i’d love it for my staircase window…since i’d love to put in a built in…but since we have to walk there..won’t work…

        • celina boulanger
          Posted August 20, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          found on 300$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
          oh my…

          • Headmistress, zookeeper
            Posted August 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            ebay, 20 dollars. look up trompe l’oiel curtains.

  14. HeatherHH
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Like Ruth, I wonder if she’d be drawn to it because it looks like a door. Other than that, it sounds like a reasonable idea. If you’re going to hang something over the front of the bookcase, it looks better than most other options are going to.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      She doesn’t tend to recognize illustrations, but that might be something we have to watch for.

  15. Grainne
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Whimsical I’d say rather than tacky. Besides which it’s your house, the FYB just lives there 😉

    Tacky or not I kinda love the bookshelves wallpaper, a previous commenter mentioned but between actual bookshelves, photos and artwork I don’t have enough wallspace left!

    Very good lateral thinking with the sheet/curtains btw

  16. Melanie E.
    Posted August 19, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  17. Cherie
    Posted August 20, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Adding my two cents: not tacky; more like resourceful. Much better than having ripped and defaced books. (and possibly harboring bad feelings toward the Cherub because of that)

  18. Donna
    Posted August 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Its your house your solution that works in your budget and if you like it why does my opinion matter. That said you asked and I will sadly side with your son…I would go with plain curtains to cover it or getting doors on the shelves (do you live near an IKEA they have reasonably priced curtains and shelves with doors. Maybe keeping one shelf in the house open with books/magazines she can tear but also there for the long term lesson…that is unless since you allow her to tear them it would be counter productive? Just thinking long long term and maybe reclaiming the ability to display books.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 20, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      I do not live anywhere near an IKEA. I can’t afford new shelves. I have at least fifty bookcases, btw. They are all full. But right now she is just getting into the five bookcases in the dining room. I’m pretty sure though, that once these are offlimits, in another month or so she will move to a new bookcase.

      I don’t think there is a long term solution where she will stop tearing books, to be honest.

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