My house is not set up for children. My ruby glass collection is in easy reach for a toddler. My guitars sit where little fingers could destroy them. All of the cupboards, including those with toxic cleaners, are easily opened by anyone with hands. There are no covers on the electrical outlets, no parental controls on the TV or any other media, no toys, no sippy cups, no child-sized furniture. I have no recorded children’s music or shows. I do not have children or grandchildren. My great nieces and nephew live far away. Most of my friends are older than I am. Children do not come here. It’s a child desert.
But the house is dog-proofed. When Annie and her brother were puppies, we had a baby gate and pee pads. As a grown dog, Annie has a doggie door to get in and out. I’m careful to leave the front door and the door to the garage closed at all times. I put nothing on or near the floor that she might eat, things like paper clips pencils, socks, glasses, my phone, or food. When I bake cookies, I cool them on a high counter because she cannot jump anymore. Nor can she open the cabinets, so whatever is inside is safe.
Visitors don’t understand. Workmen regularly leave their stuff where Annie can grab it. Nails, gloves, stray pieces of plastic or rubber, meters and tools or all sorts are fair game in her territory. I warn them, but most don’t take heed until we’re pulling contraband out of her mouth. She’s an old dog, but she will still nab things, haul them to her favorite spot in the yard, and chew them to death. Annie regularly grabs papers out of my recycle box. I can’t count how many pens I have found in pieces in the back yard. My song list has a mouth-sized bite out of it. Some of my doors and furniture have tooth marks where Annie or another dog has chewed. Most little kids don’t do that.
Then again, I don’t have Cheerios embedded in the carpet.
If children were coming, I wouldn’t know for sure how to prepare. I have been caught by surprise before by little ones snatching or breaking things that were important to me. Like the unsuspecting repairmen who find their tools in my dog’s mouth, I don’t know what they’ll get into until they do.
Check out this article on child-proofing your home. Oh my gosh, there’s a lot to do. Kids are clearly much more delicate and sneakier than dogs.
Not being a mom or a hands-on aunt, I have missed learning how to deal with having kids around. I feel bad about that. I suspect this all-adult life is missing something important. On the other hand, I’m kind of relieved I don’t have to deal with child-proofing. But I’m getting old. If I were going to have kids, that would have happened decades ago when I had the energy to deal with child-proofing. Yesterday I realized many of my friends are welcoming not just grandchildren but great-grandchildren. Good grief, another layer of childlessness to go through.
What do you all think? Are you prepared to welcome children into your homes? Are you more dog-proof than child-proof? Or am I the only clueless one out there?