You never realise what you have married until you have a baby with him.
I am married to Mr. Worry Wart. The OPU is the champion of baby-proofing, a crusader of all things paranoia and OCD and a firm believer that Re’s life is a danger zone every square inch, every milli second.
So every other day, the OPU will want to buy (or end up buying) an item of baby proofing, which could include door-stoppers, table shields, corner protectors, and other such items that cost a bomb and do jack-shit (oops, hope babies are not reading this?). Dissuading him from doing so takes a lot of my time and mental health. The last purchase was a packet of 8 corner cushions ( adhesive corner protectors) that came with a disclaimer, “This product is not a substitute for adult supervision.”
Anyway, the said protectors were quickly affixed to the corners of the kitchen table, where Re allegedly hits himself and this has been the cause of much grief to the OPU. However, Re still keeps banging into the said table (into the non-corner bits thereof) and scowls or frowns (depending on his mood) and moves on with life.
At the cost of sounding me, I’d say baby-proofing is all bollocks and highly overrated. No doubt, it is a thriving industry, thanks to more people like the OPU, and it would thrive even further if the OPUs were not married to people like me.
Of course, you are not going to be living in a 16th floor apartment without grills with a baby, or leave a hot iron or buckets of water well within a baby’s reach. I get the common sense-driven stuff. I wasn’t born in a caravan, although sometimes I wish I was. What I don’t get is over-obsessing about everything the baby does, touches, sits on or reaches for. I know you are thinking, “What about sockets?” Now tell me, when was the last time you heard a baby was electrocuted?
Maybe I am a bad mommy and maybe I shouldn’t be writing this blog as I am never going to tell you how to baby-proof your house, because I believe that it is impossible. Babies find a way to do what they want to do, and if part of that involves getting hurt, then so be it. Till today, Re has had only one accident, while I know of quite a few that babies of paranoid baby-proofing parents have. The only way to baby-proof a house is to never bring a baby into it. So if you don’t live in a glass house or are a knife-sharpener or an installation artist, you are fine.
Children, much like animals, have an instinct for things dangerous, and work around them. Perhaps Re has the undue advantage of being born into a house with two cats. And you know how cats tread.
Last Sunday, Re was climbing the stairs near the landing, following Nadia, asking her to get back into the house. This is a daily ritual, which partly allows him to be responsible for the cat (however vagrant her ways). It is also something that the OPU didn’t know about until that day. Evidently, he didn’t approve. Now, Re is good at climbing up and down, although he is better going up than down. When the OPU saw this, he screamed blue murder and said, “Did you know Eric Clapton’s son D-I-E-D falling down the stairs? We must be careful.”
I corrected him saying Clapton’s son actually F-E-L-L off a balcony, so technically his fear was misplaced.
Okay, I must quickly add here that he also imagines him F-A-L-L-I-N-G off the high chair, as a certain colleague whose son did so, told him to be watchful about.
One of the best bits I ever read about being a parent (most books go out the window by page 7) was in a little book called The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. Among other things, the book talks about the basic self-preservation mechanisms inherent in all children. She says:
A baby has no suicidal inclinations and a full set of survival mechanisms, from the senses, on the grossest level, to what looks like very serviceable everyday telepathy on the less accountable levels. He behaves like any little animal that cannot call upon experience to serve its judgement; he does the safe thing, unaware of making a choice. He is naturally protective of his own well-being, expected to be so by his people and enabled to be so by his inborn abilities plus his stage of development and experience.
However, she continues, an anxious look, a word of what is expected in the parent’s mind (Don’t drop that!) or a promise (Mind! You’ll fall), works in opposition to the child’s self-preserving tendencies and can, if one persists, eventually cause her to obey, drop the plate, and/or fall off the chair.
I have never had any baby cutlery, and when Re expressed an interest to eat with a fork, he was handed a fork. He routinely uses it to eat his pasta or his fruit, and has never tried to poke himself or anyone else with it. Another morning ritual he loves is to put my tea mug away in the kitchen after I am done, as also my breakfast plate at times. I guess he is trying to do his bit, or may be he really enjoys participating in my rituals. Yet, not a day goes by when this routine event does not give palpitations to the OPU.
Till date, Re hasn’t broken a single plate or mug. We, on the other hand, have broken several.