Child proof: I’ve come to the realization that I don’t even know what that means. I’m not dense, I know what it’s supposed to mean, but like so many other things in life, it’s subjective.
Case in point, and what prompted me to write this post, is my 2 1/2 year old niece. Child proof for her should have meant a brand new unopened bottle of Children’s Tylenol remaining unopened until such time as an adult deemed it appropriate to open and administer the drug in the appropriate dosage and for the appropriate symptoms. What it meant for my niece was: I think I’ll peel off the plastic around the cap, unlock the child proof cap, peel off the seal that normally functioning adults cannot pry off, pour it into my toy tea cup, while spilling some in the process and having a tea party. Luckily she was discovered before she could consume any. It begs the question though: What deems something child proof?
Is it a preconceived and highly tested method of what the average child is capable of accomplishing? Are there sweat shops in Cambodia where children of varying ages are trying to break into Tylenol bottles? Is the criteria: hey, if an adult can’t open it, we’re probably good? Child proofing is not an exact science and since a parent cannot be in all places at all times, we have to hope and pray that we can be present enough to intervene in time, in the event that our child out child proofs the child proof precautions that are instituted for his or her protection.
Children are resourceful.
They are smarter than adults in that they do not limit their possiblilities on what the world (or the packaging) says they can or cannot accomplish. Three protective barriers to access the Tylenol within the bottle did not deter my niece from reaching its contents…and in less than five minutes. I can’t open a brand new, unopened bottle of Children’s Tylenol in less than five minutes.
Is putting something out of reach considered child proofing?
Have you seen the contraptions that children will come up with to reach something? I’ve seen items configured in such a way that defies the laws of physics that function perfectly well for elevating a child to a position which enables them to retrieve items that are not meant for their grubby little hands- either for their own protection or my own sanity (like my favorite candy that I eat in dark closets so they won’t beg for it).
Don’t rely on child proof latches to protect your children either. I think that’s another example of, if adults can’t open it then a child can’t, flawed form of reasoning. The little McGyvers will have them open quicker than it takes you to get into them so you can cook dinner.
Baby gates: they don’t work for your dog, they don’t work for your kid. Baby gates only teach your dog and child how to climb.
Though I’m a big proponent of car seats, they’re not exactly child proof. You realize this the first time you’re driving down the street and see your child has freed himself from his restraints and is drunk with freedom in the back seat. You hope just the one woman shaking her finger at you as she passes is the only one who notices your child is not properly secured until you can get safely pulled over and wear them out for scaring you and making you get drive by judged.
You know what they need to child proof? The sugar and the flower, markers, the tv, iPads and cell phones (pass codes not withstanding), cosmetics, dog food, just to name a few. I’m sure you can come up with several more that you should feel free to share in the comments.
As parents, it’s our job to minimize the damage as to what our kids can get into to. Just as the laws of physics are null for children, so too is time and space, which I suppose is a part of physics. It’s a well known fact that time is slower when you’re a kid. That’s why a 5-minute time-out for a toddler is an eternity for them. The same holds true for the time it takes for a child to infiltrate the Tylenol. Where I couldn’t get lost in 2 seconds, I can turn my head in a store and immediately turn it back like an annoying practitioner of a game of red light-green light, and an Amber Alert is necessary for my child. I don’t know how they do it but the space/time continuum does not apply to sub-adults. I don’t know when we lose this super power, I know only that if you still possessed it into adulthood, it was immediately stripped from you upon parenthood.
My sister beat herself up a little for all the what-ifs involved in her toddler potentially drinking a toy tea cup full of Tylenol. As an ER nurse, she’s well aware of the consequences. There are some things though that you just have to be relieved that you were able to interrupt, rather than beating yourself up. The fact is, children are just more resourceful than adults are and we’re going to have near misses. We can only hope they’re dumb in the areas that will keep them safe and smart in the areas that will help them excel. As my mom says: there’s something to be said for having dumb kids. Unfortunately, I never had any.
Here’s to dumb kids where it counts.