Much ado about baby-proofing

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.


10 thoughts on “Much ado about baby-proofing

  1. Quite a coincidence that I’m reading this right after I’ve had a lil adventure with my 10 month old. She bit a chunk off her bathing soap (ahem, no, she doesn’t have any teeth yet!), showed no signs of any discomfort for the first couple of mins and then started howling, drooling, spitting, barfing, the works! I somehow managed to force her mouth open n take a look inside in between all this (she gave me a look then which clearly said “What the ****, am I not suffering enough already??”) and found a reasonably big piece stuck to her palate, managed to wipe it clean, she howled even more, oh boy! A lot of water and couple of her favourite nursery rhymes videos later things were calm. What a relief! I used to be paranoid bout hits n falls n other stuff initially too, then realised there is just no end to it, now I leave her alone and baby proofing consists of turning my head in the other direction and muttering a small prayer for her safety 🙂 Whatever, one thing I know for sure is that I’m not gonna have any trouble with her potty tmrw! 🙂

    • Ha ha ha love your spirit. I think we just need to let them be, and we will be surprised how well they look after themselves. Curiosity never really killed the cat. It’s just a CYA story our parents told us!

  2. Nice post and quite a cool way of dealing with the child… Please update your other blog.. Chickwit is missing in action…

  3. Good one! MY daughter has been taught to climb off our bed and the sofa. And she negotiates climbing up stairs with ease. The one thing she refuses to do is climb down the one step we have in the middle of the living room. We’ve tried to teach her but unless one of us is there to help her she will sit at the step shouting for help to climb down.

    I think its because she associates the step with the mattress on the floor rather than the bed or the sofa – ie she wants to take it face first and has found it doesn’t work!! That said she’s naturally cautious and won’t take it unless someone goes to her aid.

    On the other hand, the other day, she overbalanced over the side of the bed and almost fell flat on her face except that I was quick enough to catch her by her t-shirt so she was hanging from that for a second. Really scary (for me that is she seemed totally fine!) However she hasn’t got the idea that the bottom of the bed is not for peering over!!

    Oh well…

  4. Hi, love your blog and especially this post. You couldn’t have described the father any better than this. Its just perfect. OPU it is.
    Its quite amazing what these kids teach us everyday and how its so important to pen these experiences. Its also quite commendable how you manage chickwit and mommy blog. In my case mommy clearly overtakes and Unearth now has a lot of thoughts that draw inspiration from my experiences with my daughter

    Good stuff.

  5. Hi,

    I’m so glad I read this blog from you. My own experiences with my son are quite the same! Thankfully my husband is made of the same metal as far as looking after children goes. My son is 4.5 now, is very independent and helps around the house like i have not seen many children doing. Since I was a working mother till not so long back, i had to make him self dependent and so always taught him that one must help themselves and not expect to be waited upon.

    However, since i am now on a break and am currently a full time mommy, I find my son becoming very dependent on me. And that is probably because I am doing every thing for him, simply because I am now not so busy with my stuff. I am also now beginning to worry more about his clothes, his tiny injuries, etc.etc.etc!!!

    Having read your blog takes me back to when he was just a toddler and started walking at an early age of just 9 months because of his natural instinct is to be independent! I will be more careful to not curb that and to encourage him more so…

    Priyadarshani 🙂

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