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Lifeproofing Childhood©

January 27, 2010

Maybe you’ve felt the pressure like I have.  You’ve seen ads about the virtues of childproofing your house, or have a friend who has turned their home into a mini Fort Knox.  They make a clamp, bracket, switch, lock, cushion, lever and gate for every thing in your home that moves, opens, swings, rocks, or just sits there looking for trouble.

We tried a few of those levers and locks but ran into trouble.  During a two-minute window when the kids were quiet I reached for the cupboard drawer.  When I couldn’t get to the chocolate right away I considered ripping the door off its hinges.  My husband threw away the lock.

If having a latchless home makes us bad parents, it doesn’t stop there.

In our house you can bend down to any outlet and actually push the prongs into one of the plugs.  We used to have the outlets covered with plastic pieces.  But to get them off I had to pry them loose like the Jaws of Life with a large screwdriver.  As soon as I set the piece on the floor one of my children would try to swallow it.

I tried to outsmart them at that point.  Instead of putting the piece on the floor, I put it out of their reach.  I never found a single one after that.  There must be a massive graveyard of plastic pieces in our house, hiding on top of paintings, cupboards, behind dusty knick knacks and old curtains.

If we ever see either of our children get a crazed look in their eye, run to the silverware drawer, grab a fork, and plunge it towards an outlet looking to get electrocuted, we’ll change our policy.

These bad parents also have decorations on their living room tables.  And some are breakable.  We had the audacity to buy glass lamps, and insist our children leave them alone.  We did take everything off for a spell.  But then our living room looked like a piece from Pioneer Living Quarterly.  I told my kids, “Someday you’ll get your first apartment and won’t have a dime to buy any trinkets.  Meanwhile, Mommy wants to put a coaster down for her drink.”

When our daughter was born we stopped doing the one thing that had made us good parents.  Without telling anybody we started letting her sleep with a blanket.  At first we kept it at her waist, then winter came.  One morning I walked in to find her arms as cold as two sticks of salami.

“Quick!” I yelled.  “Lower the blinds and don’t let any of the neighbors in!  We’re about to move the blanket up to her arms!”  Now Cassie sleeps with a whole menagerie of beloved dolls and blankets, and not one of them has tried to smother her while she slept.

Some excellent parents might still be interested in childproofing their cupboards.  But beware:  When you need a quick sugar fix, the lock will also keep you out.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

©2010, Kim Knuth.  All rights reserved.

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