Baby-proofing and other holiday safety absurdities

A list of holiday safety tips recently caught my eye. Not because I was seeking out a whole new list of dangers to worry about, but because the advice was so absurd. AB-SURD. But to be fair, the author does operate a “baby proofing services” company, so from her perspective, the more dangers that need mitigating, the better. At this point, I must declare my prejudice about baby-proofing. Basically, I find the baby-proofing industry suspect, a consumeristic construct of largely invented “needs.” Because really, you can lock up, pad, declutter, stabilize, and sanitize the entire house, but a baby has such an arsenal of inherent weapons, namely crawling/running, spitting, puking, peeing, screaming, flailing, and shitting, that nothing and nobody is really safe. Most environmental hazards pale in comparison to the havoc to be wrought by one small child.

But a hammer sees everything as a nail, after all. So I can’t blame her too much. And the more I think about life as a baby-proofer, the sadder I get. Imagine an existence in which every time you entered a new environment, you were tempted to crawl on the floor to obtain the optimum baby’s-eye view and thus ferret out the numerous lurking dangers. Where every door is a pinched or broken finger, every drinking glass (that’s right, I said glass) a trip to the emergency room for stitches, every wooden corner or edge a concussion waiting to happen, and what’s that? a fire in the floor-level fireplace? Madness! It’s a wonder she gets out at all.

So in the name of fairness, I’m choosing to read the following tips as a cry for help from a person who finds life on this big blue marble absolutely terrifying (I can’t believe I so cavalierly mentioned a marble in the same post as holiday safety tips, for pete’s sake. Think of the children, why don’t I? Talking about marbles like that…everyone knows that marbles are cunning, toddler-seeking, airway-blocking, bowel-obstructing weapons of child destruction! Next I’ll be laying down cliches about tossing babies wrapped in bacon into a dog-fighting ring. You’ve heard that one before, right?).

Okay, probably best to just move on. Here’s an excerpt from the piece I’ve been ranting about.

Christmas morning isn’t the same without a traditional Christmas tree. If you chose [sic] a real tree, make sure it is properly watered to avoid a fire hazard. Surround your tree with a gate to keep little ones and pets at bay. If the tree wobbles, mount it to a wall with a wire. Many are reluctant to do this, but the fix is only putty and paint. While a minor nuisance, it is much less expensive than a trip to the ER on Christmas Eve! Tabletop trees should be fixed to the table with museum putty. Avoid placing a tabletop tree on a tablecloth, as a child could easily pull it down. Holiday Safety Tips | Home Safety Advice | Rachelle Gansky

I’m sorry, did she just say, surround your Christmas tree with a gate? A gate? Let me just put this out there–if I EVER go out and spend $70 on a Christmas tree, drag it into the house, reconfigure the furniture to accommodate the tree, set up a matrix of extension cords that would give a baby-proofer a coronary in order to power the lights, spend several hours decorating the tree, and THEN surround it with some kind of plastic baby fencing system, just assume my body has been overtaken by aliens and shoot me with the nearest ray gun. Really. It would be a kindness.

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About Mfree

I believe: -that the world is at least as safe today as at any other time in history -that we suffocate and cripple our children when we overprotect them -that the best protection we can ever provide our children is to teach them how to think for themselves -that kids don't need snacks every 12 minutes -that kids should be able to ride across town in a car without a dvd playing -that if we spend too much time worrying about imagined dangers, we may just miss the real dangers -that kids are astonishingly forgiving -that kids are not the boss of me
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9 Responses to Baby-proofing and other holiday safety absurdities

  1. Jenn says:

    Did I forget to tell you where I left the child fence when I left this fall?!!?

  2. nicole says:

    Our Xmas 2008 highlight was when my sister’s tree fell on the children. The photos: priceless. And no children were harmed in the memory-making. Take that, baby proofer lady!

    • Mfree says:

      THAT’S what I’m saying. What kind of trees does she think people put in their houses? Jon carried ours in (and it’s big), by himself, without the assistance of crane or forklift, without a weightlifting belt or even a single groan of exertion.

      I actually love the idea of the tree falling on the children. Seriously. I’m laughing right now. I might push ours over on the kids while they’re opening gifts. But on second thought, it’s REALLY prickly, and then they’d probably get pine sap rashes or something and it would be all whining and lotion-applying for days. I think I’ll push it over onto the dog.

  3. Meryl Jaffe says:

    I LOVE this blog. I love the quirky ‘dangers’ – especially when talking or laughing about ‘childproofing’! You make parenting sound fun while addressing some really cool issues (like the skinny on corn syrup)!

    Loved it and will come back for more.
    I also blog about parenting from a psychologist/educator/seasoned mom perspective. My most recent post is about constructive criticism. I hope you visit. In the meantime, I look forward to your next installment!

    Happy holidays,
    Meryl Jaffe
    http://www.departingthetext.com

    • Mfree says:

      Thanks, Meryl. So glad you like the blog. I checked out your site, and now I have a list of books to pick up at the bookstore. I’m afraid my husband will not be pleased with you.

      On another note, your job sounds really interesting. When in the world do you have time to blog? Wow.

  4. Sandy says:

    What, you’re too lazy to bother sheilding helpless children from certain doom? Geez, I can’t believe I’ve been letting you supervise my little angels at your House of Hazzards (you ARE supervising them when they’re over there, aren’t you?)

    • Mfree says:

      Look, lady. If I’m going to use a fence, it will be to fence in the children who can’t behave themselves, not to fence in a tree that ain’t going nowhere nohow. As for your angels, they are welcome to come over and be fenced in anytime. I just can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. As for strands of razor wire strung throughout the house, not to worry, I am too lazy to string it up in the first place. You see? Laziness has its place in baby-proofing.

  5. Eric says:

    But wouldn’t stringing a wire from the tree to the wall be a hazard much worse than a tree falling down? Imagine an unsuspecting person walking past and getting DECAPITATED BY A WIRE!

    Plus, I can’t believe she says “only putty and paint.” Simple things like that tend to linger for years at our house.

    • Mfree says:

      I know. I didn’t have the energy to go into that bit of nonsense. I talked to Jon, and rather than do the wire and fencing bit, we’re just going to bolt the tree to the floor and trim off all the branches below 5 feet. Whew! Decorating’s going to be a breeze this year!

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