Sunday, May 31, 2015

Baby proof

Posted By on Sun, May 31, 2015 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK
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Old people say to enjoy every moment you have with your babies while they’re young, because that time goes by in the blink of an eye. Well, our little boy’s thinking of crawling soon, and I’ve never seen him take so much time in making a decision before. He’s like the watched pot that never boils.

Parents of running toddlers like to tell my wife and me that we don’t realize how good we still have it, but I’m eager for him to start crawling.

Maybe the old folks are right. He may be waiting for me to blink so he can make his move.

It’s going to happen soon, because he’s now in the rocking phase – where he props up on all fours and bounces to build up the momentum, only he hasn’t quite figured out how to get it all moving forward just yet. When he finally does hit the switch, he will be hard to stop.

My wife told me to baby-proof the house, so I filled all the outlets and went back to reading. She looked at me and said, “Well that’s a start.” Turns out baby-proofing is more than just keeping fingers out of sockets and heads away from pointy corners. It’s all about getting down to their level and asking yourself where would you start if you were a baby out to destroy everything.

So, I made the curtains shorter, put away the vases and candles, locked all the cabinet doors, and raised the bookshelves. I tell you, by the time I was done, I wouldn’t want to be a baby in our house at all. I set the boy down, and after a few quick glances he looked at me like I'd just broke his favorite toy. 

The proofing goes beyond the house walls, too. The Colorado sun shines 300 days a year, so I protect the boy by lathering him up with sunscreen until he is hard to hold onto. But as soon as we step outside, he goes to staring directly at the sun.

Granted, it's rained a lot lately. But all the rain has revived the many thistles in my yard, and I can barely walk barefoot through the grass without hopping back the way I came, much less have a baby crawl around in there. I had to get down and pluck them out, again, one by one. The neighbors must have had a good laugh.

We usually take a wagon to a nearby community playground. The wagon already has a bum wheel because I tried to demonstrate to my son how to sit in it properly, and the wagon door doesn’t latch well because there must have been a misprint in the assembly instructions. It swings open at the slightest bump, and I’m lucky the boy doesn’t tumble out every time I take a turn.

Playground equipment is not yet dangerous, as my son is not yet an expert climber. The only way he could get hurt is if I were to send him down the slide without a catcher at the bottom. It’s the other kids pushing past him on the playground that I have to worry about. They don’t mind a bit about stepping over my son or knocking him into a roll, and I can only be stern with them when their parents are looking the other way.

The city streets are another issue. I‘ve become a permanent fixture in the slow lanes but there are still dangers, even for a guy bumping along with his hands at ten and two. The potholes aren’t so dangerous if you’re quick on the swerve, but you can’t avoid them all. One parenting trick I learned is to go for a ride when your baby is overtired, but it’s impossible for a baby to fall asleep, jostling along our roads.

Baby-proofing can only go so far, of course, and it’s impossible to keep a baby from all the bumps and bruises. Even the most mindful parent slips occasionally. I’m reminded of this every time I dip my finger in a too-cold or too-hot bath after we’re already toweling him dry.

David Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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