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Everything in my house is trying to kill my children.
Until a few months before my daughter was born, I had assumed that baby proofing would be a matter of locking up the bleach and the booze, and sticking those little plastic thingies in the electrical outlets. Ah, the innocence!
A quick perusal of the interwebs showed me just how drastically I had underestimated the danger. I learned that all of my worldly possessions fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Stuff your baby can choke on.
- Stuff that can poison your baby.
- Stuff that can electrocute your baby.
- Stuff that can fall on your baby.
- Stuff your baby can climb on, and then fall from.
- Stuff that can strangle your baby.
- Stuff that can suffocate your baby.
- Stuff that can squish your baby’s fingers and do terrible damage that only million-dollar microsurgery can correct.
Well, you get the idea.
My daughter was a naturally cautious child who asked permission before opening cabinets and gingerly inspecting their contents.
My first thought was, everything must go! I looked at the donation page for The Salvation Army and despaired that very little of my stuff met their standards. Then I calmed down and did what I hoped was a ‘good enough’ job of baby proofing. I took comfort in the fact that babies are not immediately mobile. You have a 6-to-8 month window to pick up the slack and the sharp objects.
And, after all my worry, it turned out that merely adequate baby proofing was just fine for my daughter, a naturally cautious child who asked permission before opening cabinets and gingerly inspecting their contents. She regarded electrical outlets and cables with the wariness of a wise old soul. Naturally, her favorite bird is the owl.
Then my son was born a couple of years later. I was totally unprepared for the mayhem and sheer terror he would bring. When he first began to roll around, he moved unerringly — and freakishly quickly — in the direction of danger. Electrical outlets, hyper dogs, and my daughter’s stupid plastic miniature fruit pies (don’t ask) were irresistible lures.
When he started crawling, he became a fully mobile menace, getting under tables and beds, pulling at unstable floor lamps, and slamming French doors with an unsettling vigor. We nicknamed him The Destroyer of Worlds.
Of course, he walked bizarrely early and then quickly entered an obsessive climbing phase. The pediatrician called him a physical prodigy. He hauled himself onto ottomans, his sister’s toddler bed, and the back of our couch. He tried to ride our dog. He started counter surfing alongside our dog.
His small motor coordination came along quickly too, and the electric outlet covers — the little plastic thingies — became his Great White Whale.
Now he’s flat out running and terrorizing his sister every nine minutes or so. And amidst the carrot-and-berry-stained wreckage that is our home, we have conceded that there is no such thing as perfect baby proofing, a.k.a. death proofing.
There is only following. And watching. And teaching.
And constant, unceasing vigilance.
Lizella Prescott is an author-in-waiting, irregularly scheduled blogger, and mom. She’s obsessed with domestic noir, and is not actually a lizard. Visit her website, and read more from her below: