My son is what you might call an “active” toddler. Active being a euphemism for insanely energetic and unafraid of anything (except the vacuum cleaner). He has been known to dive headfirst off beds and changing tables, race full speed towards busy roads, and try to surf in the bathtub. His guardian angel must be working overtime because he’s only had a couple of minor accidents so far.
Until the other week. I used to joke about mapping the fastest route to the emergency room, but I wish I actually had. We were getting ready to leave the house and Miles was impatiently standing at the front door jiggling the doorknob. All of a sudden he screamed and came into the kitchen with blood dripping from both hands and his face. The next few minutes passed in a blur. I figured out that he had cut his finger on a sharp piece of metal on the door. Both of us covered in blood and sobbing, I bundled him into the car and raced to the closest hospital about a mile away.
C. met us there. Good thing, because I was in no state to fill out the paperwork. After waiting a ridiculously long time (what if he was bleeding to death??), a nurse came and got us. Having to help her hold my baby down while the doctor examined him was one of the worst things I’ve experienced as a mom. C. had to hold him while they X-rayed his finger because I couldn’t stand it.
They determined pretty quickly that Miles was fine. The cut had stopped bleeding on its own and wasn’t deep enough to require stitches. The ER doctor was super nice and explained that mouth and hand injuries (the only ones Miles has had) tend to bleed a lot and usually look worse than they are. By this time, Miles was busy devouring his (first ever) lollipop and playing with some stickers the nurses gave him. He was fine. His dad and I were a wreck.
So now I’m convinced that our 75-year-old house is a deathtrap. Everywhere you look, there are sharp corners, uneven floorboards, rusty hinges, and probably about 17 layers of lead paint. I’m seriously considering moving to a single-story Japanese-style loft where we’d sleep on futons and sit on floor cushions. We’d have rice-paper screens instead of doors. No furniture, no stairs, no doors, no injuries, right? But Miles would probably slip on the bare wood floors and crack his head.
He just has a knack for seeking out danger. I once put up a baby gate at the foot of the stairs. He immediately started leaning his full body weight into it until both he and the gate went flying. I put a glass up on the table out of his reach, and he pulled the placemat -- and the glass -- off the table and onto his head. I put those plastic plug things in the wall outlets (which he’d previously ignored), which he took as his own personal challenge to remove. The drawer-locks we installed allow the drawers to open just enough to pinch tiny fingers. I can’t win.
I do the best I can to make our house safe. But there’s baby proof, and then there’s Miles proof. Two different things entirely.
READ O’ THE WEEK: Mark Cherrington’s article in the Nov. 2007 issue of Wondertime magazine takes an evolutionary look at why little boys love trucks.
TIP O’ THE WEEK: One thing we have managed to instill in Miles is caution around things that are hot. By saying “hot” any time he’s near the stove, fireplace, bath water, or just-cooked food, he’s gotten the point and backs off. In fact, he’s become a bit of a drama queen about it and will shout “Hot!” when his food is barely lukewarm. Better safe than sorry, though, right? One Step Ahead offers childproofing tips (along with a bazillion safety products).