I read an article recently that suggests that a good way to start baby-proofing your house is to get down on your hands and knees and look at it from your baby’s perspective.
It’s good advice, and fortunately, there’s lots more out there on how to keep your child safe. However, none of it mentions the hazards of being a parent. Oh sure, there are plenty of warnings about the sleep deprivation, the worry, the bills. But it all neglects to mention the stuff that makes your daily life… a challenge.
For instance, when we lived in a modest sidesplit suburban house, it had a total of 10 stairs. Yet, if I needed to go from my office downstairs to the bathroom upstairs, I had to pass through not one, not two, but three baby gates. This meant I absolutely could not wait until the last minute to make a trip, or else the trip would have become … moot by the time I get through gate two.
The gates all bite as well — gate one catches my finger with a spring-loaded lock, gate two grabs my heel as I go up the stairs, and gate three snags my shirt. A simple trip to the loo and already I’m a broken and bleeding wreck.
Meanwhile, making supper takes about eight times as long as it used to. First, there is the matter of positioning my daughter. There are four factors involved: 1) she must be out of range of the hot stuff on the stove; 2) she needs to be in my line of sight; 3) the path between us must be clear for the inevitable dash I have to make to stop her from doing whatever it is she shouldn’t be doing and 4) she has to have enough toys to keep her busy for the length of time it takes me to cook.
That last point is hard to judge. The toy that kept her absorbed for a whole hour yesterday will be the toy she absolutely hates today. The pot I need will be the only one she wants to bang with a spoon. All my cupboards have been rearranged too; what hasn’t been moved has been locked up. Indeed, flinging open a cupboard door these days is like playing Russian Roulette: If I’ve picked a locked door, the lock will catch the door and bring it smashing back into my fingers. An unlocked door will come open with unexpected ease and whap me on the nose. These experiences have taught me why most mums come to the table looking grim, but triumphant, and saying: “You’ll eat it and like it!”
Talking of clear paths, I haven’t seen one of those since my first born was about eight weeks old. I cannot count the number of times I’ve stepped on a wheeled toy and gone sailing through the dining room. And only one thing beats the pain of stepping on a Lego® brick in bare feet, and that’s childbirth.
I can’t sit on the couch without squishing a stuffed bear. I can’t put on my shoes without discovering — the hard way — where that missing ball went. More than once I’ve taken a swig of coffee only to find that a certain munchkin has decided to caffeinate her soother.
The biggest hazard I face though, comes when I’m teaching her. She’s just learning her alphabet, and yesterday, she pulled a ‘w’ fridge magnet down and said “emmmmmm.” When I gently said no, and turned it the other way up, and showed her the real ‘m’ for comparison, I got a look that clearly said: “Right, so who was the dumb bunny who designed THIS alphabet?”
Today, we were playing with a wooden alphabet puzzle. Again, she pulled up a ‘w’ and called it ‘m.’ I showed her both letters, showed her the pointy bits of the ‘w’ and I put it in the right slot on the puzzle board.
I got the world’s most indignant glare. She yanked out the puzzle piece, turned the board upside down, put it back in, pointed at it and said: “M!” Then I got the worst hazard: The Stern Finger Shake… from my toddler.
Who knew the alphabet would be so dangerous?
Photo credit: Self-published work by G.dallorto. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 it via Wikimedia Commons