Thursday, May 8, 2014

Baby proofing

It's been many years since I was a small child, and indeed many since I've routinely been around one.  So, my understanding of "baby proofing" is somewhat... limited.

We live in an increasingly risk-averse society.  My fellow old foggies doubtless remember the daily derring-do of childhood: riding bicycles or skateboarding without helmets; climbing trees or playing on playsets that didn't have AT LEAST four inches of approved rubber mulch under them; playing "tackle" football in the backyard; bottle rocket wars; drinking from a water hose or even a handy stream; riding in a car without a car seat; riding in the back of a pickup truck (just the thing on a hot day if the truck had no A/C); walking without adult accompaniment to the local quickie-market to buy candy, cokes, and comic books (the violent kind, naturally; I liked "Sergeant Rock"); etc.

All things that are now Frowned Upon and indeed might land a parent into hot water with the Authorities.

This all comes to mind as we have to complete baby proofing our house, yet another parenting task for which I have no training or experience.  Fortunately (?), there is the internet and... Amazon.  The list of things that one must do - and the associated list of things that one must buy - to be a "safe" parent is pretty staggering.  Just inside the house there are electrical outlet plugs and covers*; toilet seat locks; rubber corner guards and bumpers for tables and fireplace hearths; gates; various gizmos and gadgets to stop little hands opening doors and cabinets that they oughtn't; even covers to go on the bathtub spout.  I've even read serious advice about keeping the dog's water dish secured to stop the little one drinking from it or even drowning in it.  The list is almost endless.

Naturally, we'll set about baby proofing the house with diligence.  Things that can be made safe(r), will be.

And yet...

How did I and the millions of children of my generation and those before ever survive?**


(*)  Not needed in my opinion; I stuck keys in the outlet when I was a child and, after a little CPR (which is to say, shaking and screaming) from my mother, was just fine.

(**) In university, I had to read Village in the Vaucluse by Laurence Wylie.  One anecdote that sticks in my mind about life in the French village ca. 1955 was a little boy who, while skylarking during recess, fell from a wall and broke his arm.  He bore this with stoicism as he was expected to do by his parents.  He bore with equal stoicism the scolding he got from his teacher: "Jean, how could you be so foolish and careless!  Let this be a lesson to you!"

Some of my fellow students, most of whom were a good bit younger than I, were horrified.  The parents were monsters, the teacher an ogre, how could anybody be so cruel, sue the school, etc.  I knew from experience that my mother would have taken the same attitude as the French parents: "OK, let's get you patched up.  I hope you've learned your lesson."

A generational thing, no doubt.


  1. Just popping in to say hello ! I know you guys are traveling soon and super busy getting ready but just wanted to let you know that I am sending good thoughts your way ! I am so excited for you all. Can't wait to hear all about your adventure.
    - Hope your baby proofing went well

    1. Thank you very kindly. If I haven't said it before, your blog has been a big help and inspiration to me: "OK, the paperwork is a drag, and D-Day may be a twenty-four hour meltdown, but it DOES get better. Just hang in there."

      As for baby proofing... I'm not sure that *I* can get into some of the drawers and cabinets now!