Monday, August 11, 2008

Safe Delusion

Lesson 2 in Parenting 101 (see also Lesson 1) is that you must spend thousands of dollars on equipment to keep your child safe. If you don't people will glare at you and seriously consider calling Child Protective Services because your children are obviously "at risk". So get out your credit cards or take out a hefty loan because keeping your little one safe will require at the minimum:

a carseat (actually a couple of carseats, one to face backward under 20 lbs, one to face backward over 20 lbs, one to face forward up to 60 lbs, and a booster seat for up to either age 8, 80 lbs, or 4 foot 8 in. Got that?), a gate for the stairs, locks for the cabinets and drawers, helmets in several styles and sizes, plugs for all the outlets, a life vest or better yet a swim suit with floatation devices built in, a temperature regulator for the bath and a soft faucet guard, a net to go around the trampoline and a fence to go around the pool, a lock for the fridge, a rail for the bed, and well, you may as well bubble wrap the whole house because there's bound to be something potentially pokey, aka dangerous, in there.

Safety is great, right? Think safety first. Nothing more important than safety. The problem? Children aren't learning how to be safe because they are prevented from encountering anything remotely dangerous.

No, I'm not saying chuck all the stuff on the "neurotic saftey parent" list. Carseats are required by law, but the age and size of child that needs one keeps going up. As the laws are right now, my husband would have been driving himself to school in a booster seat. Gone are the days of my mother who used to drive and nurse a baby at the same time.

But a lot of the equipment actually hinders a child's ability to detect, gauge, and avoid danger. Like my sister who very responsibly kept gates at the top and bottom of her stairs whose children could not navigate them until almost age 2. I've never used stair gates and my babies learn to descend feet first on their tummies before they can walk.

I thought we were being so safety conscious by choosing a house on a traffic free cul-de-sac, until my son bolted down my friend's driveway on his bike into a street full of cars without looking. We also have a net around our trampoline and our children safely bounce into it with nary a broken bone or spinal cord injury - until they happen upon a trampoline without a net and they have no concept of staying on the darn thing.

Even less humorous is the mom who always put a life vest on her 3-year-old when she was in the pool. I mean always. The child hardly touched the water without it on and most doctors and childcare experts would applaud her devotion to safety. But her daughter had to go to the bathroom mid-swim and forgot to put the vest back on and the result was tragic. Because of the life vest, she had no fear or sense of caution around the water. The life vest also gave the mom a false sense of security making her attentiveness lax. So in the end, did it really keep her safe?


Ambie said...

Pennie is 16 and just over that minimum height. My question is.. at what age can we safely remove the booster? Would it be ok upon the passing of the drivers license? Actually at that point they may need it more than ever.

Goldie said...

There is a boy in my son's class (starting 7th grade in two weeks) who still rides in a booster seat. Kinda weird. Then again, I do know a tragic story where a 6yo (friend of a friend of a friend) was killed by a seat belt that was positioned too low and cut through his intestines during a car accident. I guess some of the safety rules do make sense, but there has to be a golden medium. Truth be told, we couldn't afford the baby gates so we never had them; but we did have sort of a baby door, an obstacle that would make the running toddler stop, open the door, and go down the stairs carefully, instead of tumbling down them mid-run. He ended up developing a habit of stopping when approaching any stairs, with the gate or without. In general I agree that children need to be trained to keep themselves safe and that is how I raised my own children; keeping them too sheltered is imo a bad idea. Word of warning re trampoline, I know a family who was denied home insurance because of that. When we had a home inspector come out, we took ours down. we have the enclosure but apparently to them it makes no difference. We cannot use ours anymore anyway because, as soon as someone starts jumping, stupid dog gets under it and barks his head off.
I apologize for writing a post on your post. Like your blog, BTW.

Ambie said...

love to have you Goldie ! Anytime

ray said...

goldie, was that home insurance or health insurance? Leaky roof, call home insurance - broken leg, call doctor.

Ambie, what happened to the slacker post? Am I going to have to revoke your admin privileges?

Ambie said...

Slacker post? Oh that was removed by the anger management police. They're really coming down hard on those they deem to be a threat to the comedic integrity of this blog.

Ambie said...

Actually I thought it would be happier where it really belonged..@ passiveaggressivenotes .com.

Goldie said...

Ray, homeowners insurance. Thankfully health insurance industry hasn't gone that far... yet :) Google "home insurance trampoline", it came back with a crazy number of links on the subject.

Goldie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.