The Daughter Chronicles

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Idiot-proofing the children

First, because some people had the audacity to doubt if the kids were still as cute as I claim, I give you two pictures:

Bow down before the cuteness!

I also have some pictures of Norah walking with her little walker toy. Yes, they're pictures, so you can't see actual motion, but you'll just have to imagine her steps. Soon I will figure out how to load videos onto the Internet, and then look out!

The real point of this post, however, is about keeping the children safe. It's a fine line parents walk between letting kids discover how to stay out of trouble themselves and keeping them safe by taking them out of danger. We haven't had to do much with Mia because of her condition. She doesn't get into a lot of trouble, so therefore we haven't had to decide when she needs to learn things herself. We imagine that as she gets more mobile (and whether she will progress or not in the gait trainer is still up for debate), we'll have to worry about that, but for now, it's just Norah getting into things. When do you step in?

One thing she likes to do is pick things, usually utensils, out of the dishwasher. Whenever I open the dishwasher she comes a-runnin' (which is a figure of speech, since she comes a-crawlin' right now). She thinks the dishwasher is one of those magical adult places that kids don't have easy access to so it must be the coolest place ever! I usually ignore her because she generally just stares into the dishwasher in awe. But then she starts pulling out utensils. I just pluck them from her grasp and put them on the counter top without worrying too much about it. She usually goes straight for Mia's spoons, which are red and plastic and too groovy to resist, apparently. Then, a few days ago, I looked down and saw Norah holding ... a steak knife. Yikes. By the blade. Double yikes. I very carefully took it from her and told her to go away. She whined and crawled away, insulted. She's very quick, and if I turn away to put a glass in the cupboard, she could easily grab a knife and do some damage. This is a danger I know I have to remove from her reach and not let her figure out on her own, but I hope I'm fast enough. Darned kids are speedy!

The other thing she did recently is far less serious, and something I'm sure I can let her figure out by herself. A few days ago she was playing on the floor near Mia's gait trainer, which Norah considers something of a jungle gym. She looked fine, but suddenly she started crying quite desperately. I looked over at her and could see no reason why she was crying so much. It was in the early afternoon, so I thought she might be tired. I asked her a couple of times what was wrong, and finally got up and walked over to her. Mia's gait trainer has a couple of metal rods running along the plastic tubes on which the wheels are attached. These rods are for the straps that go around her ankles. Attached to these rods are spiral wires that can be adjusted to keep the straps within certain limits. The wires are twisted into two circles that jut down from the spirals around the rods, and you push the two circles together to adjust the spirals. Norah had, you guessed it, stuck her thumb into one of the circles and couldn't get it out. This vexed her. I was a bit worried because I initially couldn't get her thumb out and I didn't want to push too hard. Finally I got her thumb out and she immediately stopped crying. Then (and if you're a parent you know what's coming) she stuck her thumb immediately back into the circle. And started crying again. I tried to explain to her how idiotic that was, but she was having none of it. Knowing it wasn't all that bad, I naturally took a picture before freeing her:

I know they'll learn cause and effect soon enough (Norah still hasn't figured it out with regards to the cat), but it's frustrating watching them not comprehend it quite yet. This is one of the hard decisions of parenting: when is it okay to let them make their own mistakes and learn from them, and when do you have to step in because they might really hurt themselves? It's an ongoing process, to be sure.


  • It's so hard trying to strike a balance between promoting independence and risks. I so recognise the whole dishwasher scene! I used to occupy E. by encouraging her to take her own plastic spoons whilst frantically unloading the rest! (it's paid off, now at just over 2, she takes the whole cutlery basket - very sharp knife whisked away first - and then unloads them into the drawer by herself!)

    By Blogger Custancia, at 10/8/06 12:21 AM  

  • That's what we're working toward, Custancia. I let her take Mia's plastic spoons and gnaw on them, and I hope eventually she'll help with the dishes.

    By Blogger Greg, at 12/8/06 6:01 PM  

  • First, the dishwasher. Then, on to laundry and by age four, you hope, the lawn!

    This does sound like a chance for you to get some exercise though. Try opening the dishwasher, then running around the house once before returning to see what transpires with Nora. You could exploit this by filming a workout video... maybe a first-person, hand-held video along the lines of The Blair Witch.

    Uncle Monster

    By Blogger john sweet, at 13/8/06 9:38 AM  

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