Friday, September 26, 2008

Safety Patrol

Before we had kids, I really thought Rhett and I had almost everything in common. I mean, sure there were the small, irritating differences (like my propensity to leave used tissue around the house), but I was pretty sure that on the big things, we were compatible.

And then we had kids. And whoa, we are different. Really different.

For example, I tend to have a more laissez-faire attitude towards my children and their safety. I see them doing something like climbing a stone wall, and I think, Well, they haven't hurt themselves yet, so they're probably fine. And then I sit and watch them climb all over and don't say a word to them. Plus, I think it's good for the gross motor skills to climb like crazy.

I get this attitude from my mom, who once let my three-year-old nephew play with a box of pushpins. When he stepped on one and then screamed in pain, she shrugged philosophically and said, "Well, he was having the best time playing with them until he stepped on one."

I'm not saying I'm leaving out poison over here just to teach our kids a lesson, but I don't worry too much about bumps and bruises, either.

Rhett, on the other hand, sees the same kids joyfully climbing on a stone wall, and the fact that they haven't fallen yet only means that they are that many seconds closer to inevitable disaster, which disaster will probably take the form of a broken neck or death. Kids jumping on the bed? A serious breach of safety protocol. Me, allowing our kids to climb on the back of the sofa? The foolish, foolish choices of a future grieving mother.

He can't understand why I let Veevs ride the bus to school, why I let the kids paint with watercolor paints without aprons, or why I don't really care if they jump from chair to chair in the kitchen. I let them sit on the counter when I'm baking, and why haven't I considered that they could fall and crack their heads open while I turn my back to get some eggs out of the fridge? I don't know why. I just haven't.

And if they do, at least I have an awesome pediatrician.


JustRandi said...

That's funny!
I remember being at a friend's house one day, when her 4 year old was walking across the top of their wooden swingset like a balance beam. I asked her if that worried her, and she said, " I figure he'll either get really good at it, or learn in a hurry not to do it."

At first I was shocked, but the more I thought about it, the more I adopted it.

I keep remembering that most of us survived to adulthood without carseats OR bike helmets.

jennie w. said...

I just got in a big fight with my husband about this yesterday.

He said it wasn't OK to let my two and three year olds play in the fully fenced backyard while I was in the house. They could be kidnapped!

I told him he's a psycho worry-wart. But that fight will come up again, mark my words!

Kiera said...

I leave used tissues around the house too, and it absolutely drives James crazy. I think I land right in the middle of you and your husband. I worry a lot about some things and others, I kind of just let it go and just see what happens.

Save Ferris! said...

So, you think that letting your 2 year old play in the gutter while cars are whizzing past is a good idea? I beat you on that one--you know I did!!!!

Timmy Cutler said...

Take the Shame!

Heather of the EO said...

Well, he might die of a heart attack from stressing. And you most likely won't. You'll just fall off something really high. That's how you'll go. Or maybe you'll get hit by that scary school bus you've allowed into your life. That'll serve ya right. :)

Celia and Scott said...

This is so interesting because I've had the same conversation with my girlfriends. Is it because we're just around our kids more and compared to what they COULD be doing, riding couch cushions down the stairs isn't all that bad?

I've been meaning to email you and ask for Josh's email address. I'm the ward organist (scary for my ward, right?) and I have little to no organ experience. I need a professional to answer a few questions. It just so happens that I have a professional organist as a cousin! How convenient! Could you email me his email address if you get the chance? Thanks!

Claire said...

I'm afraid I'm with Rhett on the apron thing.. I don't like the thought of spills or stains. Even Hannah will now ASK for a bib if she's about to eat. That's right - she's conforming. I love it.

Jill said...

I'm just the opposite. I worry, and my husband doesn't have a problem letting the kids flirt with danger.
But then again, there has been a time or two where I let them do something thinking that if they get hurt, they probably won't do it again.

Keely said...

Hahhaha I had this argument the other day when I "let" our kid eat dirt. "Oh, honey," he sighed at me condescendingly. Whatever - that way, I get to be the FUN parent ;)

Beeswax said...

I agree. The sheer number of hours we are with them forces us to relax. WHen I am watching kids, I also have to do laundry and fix dinner. I cannot sit and physically WATCH them all day.

I did have pause, though, last week, when my 1 year nephew fell off a tiny plastic picnic table in the yard, broke his arm at the elbow, and now needs surgery on it.

Mine are the kids that fall off picnic tables 10 times a day.

Melanie J said...

I refer to this as the Bill Cosby School of Parenting from a routine he used to do back in the 80's.

DH: Baby G is going to pull that shelf of candles down on his head.

Me: And?

DH: Aren't you going to do anything about it?

Me: I already told him no four times.

DH: But he's still doing it. And it's going to fall.

Me: Then I guess he won't do it again.

I guess it's because I was such a hard headed kid that the only way I could learn was screwing up.

Jen said...

I think this whole issue stems from the giving of birth. For women, this is life-affirming--I can live through crazy difficult stuff, and so can this seemingly fragile but surprisingly sturdy little piece of life. For men, this is horrifying and fearful and there are body parts and blood EVERYWHERE and it is up to him as the man to wrench control of the situation and protect everyone involved for the rest of their lives. Maybe I should change my name to Sigmunda.

Janene said...

I think you should buy Rhett the book Officer Buckle and Gloria--it's all about safety tips. =) By the way, I let the boys lick the brownie spoons yesterday and Dan comes in saying, "Um . . what about the raw eggs?" I answered, "What about them?" I think he's learning too much--I'm sure they'll survive.

Beck said...

Your husband sounds like my mom - we have a safe, well-travelled path that goes RIGHT ALONGSIDE he sidewalk here, except the path is on a wee little hill and my three were tromping on it and I suddenly realize that my mom is PANICKED because THEY MIGHT GET HURT. On the wee little path. Hahaha, my poor mom.

Carol said...

I am in full agreement with Rhett on this one. I am as neurotic as they come. It is a disease.

Though the broken arm has chilled me out a bit. After all even broken bones are simply mended.

Jessica G. said...

I am the official freaker-outter person at our house. I can spot harm and danger in the most mundane places. It's kinda like my super power.

Lara said...

Oh husband totally freaks out about everything, and I just let them climb like monkeys. If they fall, they learned their lesson, right? It's not like I let them climb too high, anyway.