Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dad: Baby-Proofing

A little over a week ago, Susan figured out how to crawl. She first popped up onto all fours about 3 weeks ago and started rocking back and forth shortly after that. Once she figured out how to move her hands, it was on. We had started baby-proofing house before she crawled, but now we really have to get a move-on. I set her down in the living room the other day and got up to go to the kitchen for a second. When I looked back, she was gone. Her ninja skills are already well-documented, but this was some next-level Foot Soldier stuff.

Once we started baby-proofing, it became clear pretty quickly that “baby-proof” means “moderately adult-proof” as well. I have a theory that the makers of this baby-proof stuff don’t want a lawsuit on their hands, so not only do they make sure that their products are secure enough, but so difficult to put together that they can claim that you installed it improperly if it fails. I can’t even put her stacking cups back together, and now I’m supposed to modify a two-story house with a super-open floor plan, a flight of 16 stairs and a gas fireplace? 


When you start baby-proofing, you learn that your house is basically a death trap. There are sharp edges, choking hazards, strangulation risks and things on the floor that you don't even know about until they end up in your baby's mouth. Susan might as well be crawling around on a bed of nails surrounded by fire and lions on the streets of Philadelphia after the Phillies won the World Series.

Maybe they should baby-proof the entire city of Philadelphia.

Needless to say, I’ve had a little trouble so far. Look at the outlet covers that MJ stuck all over the house. They have what I assume is meant to be an easy-to-grab tab made for adult fingers that, in theory, grown-ups can grab, squeeze and yank out of the outlet. I’ve got the grab and squeeze down, but I haven’t quite mastered the pull-out-of-the-wall part. What instead ends up happening is the loss of several layers of skin on my fingertips as my thumb and index finger slip off the “grooved” surface which apparently was molded in the same factory where they manufacture cheese graters. Now every time I want to plug something in, I need a screwdriver, band-aids and a tube of Neosporin. Every single outlet downstairs is plugged up, so I’m pretty close to giving up on electricity and embracing the ways of the Amish. At least our energy bill will be lower for the next few years.

The next project was to construct baby gates in front the stairs. “Construct?” you may ask. “Don’t you just pull them out of a box and put them in front of whatever area you want to keep the baby away from?” Well to that I say, “YES, YES THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO.” Instead, because of our ultra-wide stairway, we have to piece together three different “easy-to-assemble” segments, secure them into the wall and onto a stair rail, and do it in such a way that the gate doesn’t crumble like the Berlin Wall the second your curious baby accidentally falls head-first into it. Also, you have to use a screwdriver and a drill, which totally violates the “easy-to-assemble” mantra. About midway through night two of construction, I pondered hiring Gandalf and having him stand guard in front of the steps.

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!! Now stop crying.
I complain, but the point is that this stuff works. Susan gets into anything she can put her hands on, and we don't want her to get hurt. It's impossible to watch her every second of the day, and she tends to get mad at us when we throw in her Pack & Play every time we need to get up and do something. There are still a few cords to wrap up but I think we’re mostly baby-proofed, at least downstairs where Susan spends all her time. We still have to watch her like hawks because she’s already trying to pull herself up on anything she can reach. This is just one of those unavoidable truths of parenthood, that just when you think you have everything figured out, your baby decides to take a monumental leap in development and totally undo whatever sense of normalcy you had previously established. Pretty soon she'll be popping out the outlet covers herself and unlatching the gate so she can scoot upstairs and color on the walls. Maybe then she can teach me a thing or two about how to move around in my own house.

One day.

1 comment:

  1. Babies learning how to crawl is a telltale sign that the house will soon be needing some baby-proofing. This event is a little bittersweet, as it symbolizes a milestone in you and your baby’s life, and a challenge to be more conscientious of safety. It’s a challenge, but it’s also learning curve that will yield good results in the future.

    Helene Raymond @ Trade Squad