I had no idea that our house was such a
Our eleven month old son James has suddenly
become seriously mobile. From parents worried that he was taking his
sweet time learning to crawl, we've become full-time crossing
guards. We now look back on the good old days when you could put him
down and he'd still be there when you looked again five seconds
later. If there was any justice in the world, children wouldn't
learn to walk until they were ready to leave for college.
Instead our son is happily careening around
the house like a BC Premier. Every corner is a potential trip to the
hospital. The coffee table alone is capable of taking a dozen IQ
points off every time he staggers close to it. I was developing one
enormous thigh muscle from leaping off the couch to cover the pointy
bits so his head would bounce off the back of my hand and the edge
would instead dig a permanent gouge in my palm. Don't get me started
on our stairwell, open concept kitchen or twelve years' accumulation
of eye-level knick knacks - all pointy or toxic.
We can now see that house we've been so
comfortable in for twelve years is more of a liability than an Iraqi
army pension. Rather than do everything needed to make it safe, we
briefly considered simply filling the entire house about waist high
with rubber balls. It would be safe, and at the same time it would
cut down on the vacuuming.
Although I like to think that I take safety
seriously, it was probably a mistake visiting our local babyproofing
store. In my parents' time, no such thing existed. Maybe babies were
tougher forty years ago, because I don't remember many of my friends
wearing eye-patches to daycare. Back then, baby proofing consisted
of not storing the carving knives in the crib and making sure your
cigar butt was out before letting junior play with it. Accidents did
happen. I still carry a beaut of a scar over my right eye from a
childhood run in with a coffee table - but if anyone asks, I tell
them it was a bar fight with a 300 pound biker.
The babyproofing store I went to for
assistance had rack upon rack of devices designed to prevent
gruesome toddler injuries that I had never even considered before.
There was a cage designed to fit around fireplaces that was only
slightly smaller than the one used in a WWF Smackdown. There was
padding for every piece of furniture, locks for every appliance, and
spy cameras concealed in teddy bears for the ultra paranoid.
Like a chamber of horrors, every room in the
house was shown with all the accidents that could befall a toddler -
along with the items that could prevent such occurrences. Such
safety does not come cheap. Little bits of ordinary plastic to keep
fingers out of VCRs run twenty bucks. Like the wedding racket, I
learned long ago that you had better resign yourself to getting
hosed when buying baby stuff.
As I made my way to the cash with the
smallest number of purchases a parent's conscience would allow, one
of the sales clerks asked if there was anything I had overlooked.
Perhaps I'd care to look at the new line of toddler helmets designed
to be worn all day. It looked like a large foam egg.
I politely declined, and could tell he was
silently writing me off as someone not serious about child safety.
Trust me, our son will already have more
than enough to tell his therapist about when he grows up without
making him wear a foam egg on his head all day.