One can never be too safe but one can always be very sorry. Now that our little grandson has mastered the art of crawling, I find that toys have lost their allure. What can be more exciting than coloured plastic that either squeaks, squawks or wiggles? He would much rather spend hours turning over slippers he finds in his way, bang away at pots, fling his own plastic tableware and observe the grownups going about their own business.
Much like Dr. Livingstone and those other great explorers before him, he has discovered the joys of finding out things for himself. How he enjoys crawling about the house – rooms that were not known to him, rooms that he just about saw in passing, all these became opportunities for great discoveries.
Ascent of Mount Green Chair
And what a joy it is to see the little fellow crawl about! Our green arm chair has become his Mount Everest and he starts off with his first step at the Base Camp which is the footstool for his great grand mother. Once he scrambles past First Base, he puts his leg up and hauls himself to the plateau which is the seat of the chair. By this time his devoted Sherpa (yours truly or any other adult supervising him) goes behind the chair and gives him a leg up. Within three steps, he has climbed to the summit and he triumphantly starts clapping, egging on the audience to acknowledge their appreciation of his victorious ascent.
Another of his regular routines is to carry out a rigorous inspection of my laundry room and my kitchen. While I don’t encourage either visit for fear of him putting his hand in the wrong place, I also don’t want to dampen his enthusiasm for discovery by constantly saying no. So I have devised a way of channeling his curiosity – I allow him to push the clothes into the drum of my front loading machine. Likewise I allow him to pull them out and “help” me put them out to dry on the wash line. While hanging out the clothes he loves making the clothes pegs spin and equally loves flinging the wet clothes into my hands.
Similarly I’ve found out that he hates the wooden gate I’ve kept as a barrier to the kitchen but would rather watch me cutting vegetables in my own domain. So he crawls in at super fast speed, his little butt actually swaggering as he moves ahead to take a look at the pots and pans. Sometimes he manages to pull himself up to pot level and bang away on his newly found drums. At other times he gets distracted by the magnets on my refrigerator and can spend a few frustrating moments trying to pry them off the door. But once his interest wanes, he goes on to more exciting things like bottles of sauce etc. That’s when I really have to take him out of the kitchen because very soon what starts off as an experiment can turn into a disaster.
A fine line
So essentially it is a fine line between assuaging one’s curiosity and courting disaster and there are several ways of preventing mishaps: there are corner covers to protect little heads from sharp corners, there are safety nets or barriers to prevent little ones from falling over, or entering spaces they shouldn’t be entering, door stoppers to prevent doors from banging, plugs to prevent little fingers from prying into electrical sockets and of course the best insurance of all – the permanent shadow or companion who literally follows the child’s every step. I personally am against this last resort mainly because there is the fear of making the child dependent on a personal attendant. But despite taking every measure to make the house child friendly (removing all glass or breakable stuff, putting away sharp edged tables, disconnecting the easy-to-reach electric sockets, not allowing him inside the kitchen while the fire is burning), I still found there were times when I had to leave a task unfinished or in a rush, with the fear that he would wake up from his sleep and fall down the bed. Or I would worry that one day he might just fall over and hurt himself just as I was putting away a hanky in a drawer.
So last week I bought what I thought was my best buy ever, a play pen. When I first had a look at it I was disappointed and quite shocked at the size – it looked too much like a cage and my little lion was no animal in a zoo! But when I thought of how easy it was for him to quickly put his finger in a plug that has not been disconnected or pull at an electric wire, or put a pin dropped inadvertently or frankly anything that had missed my eye, I felt that this was really the best option. At least for those few minutes that you know you can’t give him your undivided attention or when he takes his afternoon nap.
We tend to forget that children have boundless energy, superior eyesight, quick to swallow reflexes and a curiosity that is limitless. With each new day they want to discover more and more of this wonderful world and we should definitely encourage them. But we must ensure that they are in a safe environment and I would strongly recommend a play pen because it is quite difficult to make your entire house child friendly. I found this a great way for me to recover some of my own time and also ensure that the little one is in a safe and clean environment that is entirely his space. While there are several options available I’ve got a Chicco Open Sea which is cheaper at Flipkart than in the shop… But there are various options in the market to suit every requirement and every budget.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood