"baby" proofing

What's tricky about the term "babyproofing" is that this one word encompasses so many different ages and stages and challenges and attempted murders. When used in this compound gerund, the word "baby" means "breathing person between the ages of 0 and, I don't know, when do children begin to understand mortal peril? 7?"

I mean, babyproofing for an actual baby is so different from babyproofing for a toddler who is an evil genius trained by Russian circus performers. As your child grows and masters more complex physical skills - sitting, rolling, walking, climbing, jumping, unlocking, match-striking, and flushing, to name a few - babyproofing becomes less a matter of preventing disaster, and more a matter of post-disaster recovery.

There should be different categories of babyproofing, in which the word "baby" is substituted for a more accurate representation of the physical abilities and passion behind the death wishes of the children at that particular age.

So I made them.


Stage 1: "Potted Plant Proofing"
Age: Birth to crawling

are you boiling water in the kitchen?
are you insane?
you're boiling water? with the plant right here?
but the plant is in the bedroom
you're a monster.

Key Guidelines:
- Don't put a knife in the crib.
- Don't ask the baby to hang tight for a sec in the bathtub.
- That's pretty much it.

At this stage, your baby is basically a potted plant, if you have ever had potted plants whose soil you must change multiple times per day to prevent root rash, and who screams if you don't water it every 2 hours on the dot, and who explodes plant juice all over you immediately after watering.

When you're babyproofing for your newborn, think about what preparation you would do before bringing a new potted plant into your house. Patch up that gas leak, for sure. I'd shy away from pouring leaving an open jar of ant poison sitting in its pot. But seriously, it's basically a plant. 

Case in point: 

Which of the following would you leave on the roof of your car and drive away?
a) a baby
b) a potted plant
c) none of the above


You can honestly leave your baby in the middle of the floor in a room full of open outlets and it will be fine. You can seriously leave a hot curling iron exactly one inch away from your new house plant's longest frond, and it will enjoy the toasty warmth on its sweet little leafys, but it will not get burned. 

Stage 2: "Bird With a Broken Wing Proofing"
Age: Crawling

Key Guidelines:
- Vacuum four times a day.
- Remove all breakables from lowest shelves of bookshelves.
- Time to plug up the outlets.

So baby is mobile and grabby but only to an elevation of 12-24 inches. 
It picks through the carpet with its sharp little fingers to find things to eat.
It stares up at the high shelves out of its reach, fat with mugs of piping hot coffee, glittering with glass keepsakes. It makes a vow. 

glass jar full of matches
you will be mine

and you
i shall choke on your tiles
to remind mommy
not to check facebook
while i am awake
and thrashing around
under the bookshelves

Right, it also makes a lot of noise when thrashing around.
Congratulations! Your baby is basically a bird with a broken wing.
Also like a bird with a broken wing, your baby is growing stronger each day, and it is only a matter of time until...

Stage 3: "Bruce Willis from Unbreakable if He Was Also Blind and Drunk and in a Modern Furniture Gallery on a Cruise Ship During The Perfect Storm Proofing"
Age: Pulling Up and Walking

Key Guidelines:
- Your living room furniture should all be made of shapeless sacks filled with beans.
- If you have a fireplace it's time to brick that shit up.
- When your baby starts making the personal choice to spend nap time pulling up in the crib rather than acutally sleeping, drop the crib mattress to its lowest setting (if you're having trouble locating how low is low, you're looking for one notch lower than what you thought your personal rock bottom would be, before this shit went down. So, low.)

You've made it this far, and it is time for you to rent the 2000 M. Night Shyamalan film "Unbreakable" starring Bruce Willis as Mr. Glass (I get it.) a man afflicted with Osteogenesis imperfecta
(which I copied and pasted from IMDb), a disorder that causes his bones to break at the slightest touch, or possibly even no touch at all. 

Take notes. 

Your child is now attempting to break more bones than B. Will, if B. Will were shitfaced, blind, and in a modern furniture gallery set on a cruise ship during The Perfect Storm.

Your child will lurch around your home as if blackout drunk on the deck of a ship being tossed by 30-foot swells, and he will fling himself into your coffee table, dining chairs, cabinet edges, door frames, baseboards, with the consistency of someone who is actually trying to up his fracture stats.

Should you choose to attempt to keep your adult furniture in order to further the sad charade that you're still calling the shots here, you will need to pull money out of your 401(k) in order to purchase sufficient quantities of plastic sheeting, foam core padding, and duct tape. 

10 points

Honestly, I'd just go with the bean bags.

Stage 4: "Genetically Modified Spider Monkey Proofing"
Age: Climbing

Key Guidelines:
- Clear the bookshelves and bolt them to the wall. They do not belong to you anymore.
- All of the art will need to be re-hung on the ceiling or in your bathroom.
- Chairs are banned.

Imagine a spider monkey.

Now imagine if that spider monkey retained its superhuman strength and agility, and the amoral selfishness that enables all creatures of the wild to kill their siblings and then take a nap, but then imagine that spider monkey has been genetically modified to:
a) have your eyes
b) remember which cabinet the chocolate is in
c) mispronounce chocolate adorably (gockit, chochit, shaka, and shockshit all worked on me)

That's what you're dealing with: a sociopathic air dancer that you're programmed to love.

Your primary objective during Stage 4 is to control any object that can be used as a climbing tool. Books must be locked up and only 2 or 3 removed at a time. Dresser drawers are basically a staircase to heaven; lock them with straps that have been drilled into the frame. I don't care if your grandfather made it in his carpentry shop that burned down in WW2. DRILL IT. Chairs come out for one hour at dinner, and even then only when there's company. The rest of the time you eat squatting over your plates on the kitchen floor. Because that's what you are now.

Remember: you can't think like a genetically modified spider monkey. You can't anticipate what's coming next. The best you can hope for is the ability to overnight more straps once you hear a thud from the bedroom at naptime. Besides, even if your child is now quick, athletic, and unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of his choices, at least he isn't actively trying to fuck shit up.

That happens next.

Stage 5: "Insane Adult With Special Forces Training Proofing"
Age: Chicken

Key Guidelines:
- Look around the room.
- Pretend you are a Navy SEAL who is also insane.
- Super insane.
- Take everything out of the room.
- Lock the door.

I could have also called this one Werewolf Proofing, and now that I think about it that might be more concise. But a werewolf is only a blindly destructive monster once a month. And your child, well...

Let me just say that he's obviously just really SMART for his age. And wow, what a vocabulary!

But no he's definitely a monster 24/7/365.

When does Stage 5 end?

I'll let you know when I'm on the other side. 

Chicken has been napping in our room for the last 4 months and oh boy, does he act like an insane, creative, well-muscled adult with combat experience! In the past few days we've gone into the room to find our dresser drawers emptied, a skating pond of lotion on the floor, a stick of deodorant crumbled and ground into the carpet, and by the way the bathroom door is LOCKED you guys.

Plus there was this:

where is the

he's spooning it
the lightbulb
like a vet with flashbacks
who sleeps with his rifle

I'm not sure what it means but I know it's a threat. 

Has anyone made it to Stage 6?

What is my future?

I imagine there will be talk of penis etiquette and an online bomb safety course.



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