by Jocelyn Jane Cox
When your kid starts to get mobile (and soon thereafter begins to sprint at the speed of light), your previously cozy home suddenly seems dangerous. Coffee table edges seem as sharp as razors. Innocent chairs loom like perilous cliffs. Appliances teeter on counter tops and lamps threaten to tumble like boulders.
Most of us attempt some form of safety proofing in order to achieve peace of mind. The problem is that it only half-works and makes your home an annoying place to live. Here are the pros and cons of some of the most common safety proofing tactics:
GATES – Pro: They effectively contain small children, and block them from entering danger zones such as staircases. Con: Even for adults, opening those plastic latches requires a master class in locksmithing. After a few attempts, most fully-grown people just forgo the latch and swing a leg over, but this hurdling technique often ends in a pulled groin muscle. Kids, on the other hand, get the knack for opening those latches surprisingly early.
RUBBER FLOORING – Pro: If you have hard wood floors, these rubbery tiles that fit together like puzzles do nicely break falls and minimize face bruising. Con: They can be quickly taken apart by industrious little hands and strewn all over the house. And, as with all puzzles, some critical pieces will go missing for the rest of time.
CABINET LATCHES – Pro: They do keep curious toddlers away from pots, pans, and cleaning products. Con: They keep these items away from the cabinets as well, since adults will be too lazy/busy/tired to invest the extra 45 seconds in unlatching and latching. It’s just easier to leave everything piled on the counter.
DRAWER LATCHES – Pro: These prevent kiddies from finding, sharpening, then brandishing the knives. Con: Unless you’re a skilled carpenter or an engineer, these take approximately three hours each to install…multiply that by all eight of your drawers, and you have lost a WHOLE day of your life. Besides, the drawers still open about an inch, which is just enough room to pinch tiny fingers.
DOOR KNOB COVERS – Pro: With these plastic knob covers, you can basically lock your child in any room (for their own safety of course) without the guilt and stigma of using a lock. Con: Once these plastic knob covers are in place, there is a particular squeeze-and-turn technique required of the wrist, that after many repetitions, will give adults a specific and extra-painful strain of carpel tunnels.
In case you don’t want to invest your time, money, and hard-earned mental health on these devises, you can consider other options. For example, you could line your entire house with pillows and dress your child in a full suit of bubble wrap. Or here’s a really crazy idea: you can teach your child to simply follow directions and comply with your verbal requests. (Hahahahahahaha! Good luck with that.) Finally, you could let them learn lessons about safety and gravity the hard way. Of course, this might cost you a few visits to the Emergency Room.
The bottom line is that, whether you safety proof your house or not, your child is probably going to survive freak accidents you thought would be a lot worse and get hurt when and how you least expect. And in the end, they usually end up just fine.
Freelance writer and author Jocelyn Jane Cox reports on the Great State of Parenthood with advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need every other week in the Chronicles of Parenting. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.
The Chronicles of Parenting are sponsored by children’s performer, Danna Banana, who plays “music for kids that parents can stand.” He’s written for Disney and Nickelodeon and played the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For parties, songwriting, or to learn more about this composer, performer, and Nyack resident, go to DannaBanana.com. Or DanCohenSongs.com.