Remember baby walkers? The ancestor of the exersaucer, with wheels on the bottom? I don’t remember them, but I have photos of my miniature self in one, rolling around the house at breakneck speeds with a cookie in one hand and a death wish in the other. These devices have led to many injuries, and yet they were a household staple for nearly a hundred years.
Check out this happy baby from 1905 (courtesy of Wikipedia). It was all fun and games until someone lost a... leg?
In 2004, Canada had finally seen enough smashed up babies and became the first country to ban the sale, importation and advertisement of baby walkers. (It was either that or ban stairs, and that was a little ridiculous.) Even selling second-hand baby walkers at yard sales and flea markets is illegal. Take note: If you’re harbouring a baby walker in your home, you could be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to up to six months in jail. You’d scarcely get a harsher punishment for making toddler pie. But hey, there’s no price on our kids’ safety.
Even without those munchkin mutilators, it’s still a dangerous world out there. And by out there I mean in here – in our house. It’s just a bungalow with a couch, a TV, a fridge – the usual stuff. But a toddler can find trouble in a room full of cotton and rainbows. Especially when he’s half chimpanzee. In Max’s mere 1.5 years of life, he has fallen down the stairs. He has fallen face-first out of his highchair – twice. He has busted his lip at least a half dozen times. Once, he even bit his tongue so bad, I thought he had bit it clean off and swallowed it.
I still remember the horror of that morning. I was in bed (my turn to catch a few extra Zs) when I was awakened by Max’s screams. As Andrew reached my bedroom door with the wailing boy in his arms, I was mortified by the sheer amount of blood; his sleepers were saturated! It was like baby Hannibal Lecter had just eaten his first liver. He had in fact fallen down and chomped a huge gash in his tongue; one of the pitfalls of having 14 teeth at just 10 months of age. Amazingly, his tongue healed in a day or two. It is one of the fastest healing organs in the human body. Who knew?
Max has not swung from the chandeliers or rafters, but only because we don’t have chandeliers or rafters. He works with what he’s got, like cupboards and drawers...
Once, when I was washing the dishes, he was playing near my leg, pulling dishrags from the drawer. I noticed a sudden silence – a sure sign of trouble, right mothers? – and I looked down to see Max standing there, peering up at me with wonder, with a giant meat cleaver in his hand. Holy shit, it’s Chucky! I calmly removed the king of the knife rack from his hand and breathed a sigh of relief. So that’s where I put that sucker.
All this, and not a single trip to the emergency room.
Safety. It’s a tricky thing. Obviously, I try to be cautious, but I don’t want to be one of those mothers (or grandmothers!) who follows the kid’s every move, gasping every time he stumbles. I use common sense, but I don’t overdo it. If we said NO to everything, we’d be uttering one, long, drawn-out NOOOOOOOOOO the entire day, every day. The way I see it, a scattered bump, bruise or pinch is a good thing. A lesson in cause and effect. Action and Consequence 101.
But hey, we don’t tempt fate. The meds and chemicals are safely stored away up high. We pay attention to product recalls. We don’t leave him unattended in the bathtub. (If we can’t give him our full attention, we just don’t bathe him. Dirt makes ya grow.) We cut up his food so he doesn’t choke. If the wire is frayed, we stop him from chewing on it. (Kidding, of course.) We don’t let him run with scissors, or let him have scissors for that matter. And we don’t keep the sharp knives under the dishrags (anymore).