All you grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents, and kindly friends of families with children out there, Heads Up. Summer is here, and we want the kiddos to visit, right? Of course, we do; under the right circumstances, we love it. It’s a cherished highlight of the whole adult/child experience.
And yet, are we really ready? Prospects for disaster may lurk, even in the best-managed, adult-occupied domicile. If we are unaccustomed to invasions by under-teen crowd, it is wise to consider precautions that may insure the best possible time is had by all. Where possible, we strive not to add urgent care or ER visits to the entertainment agenda.
Those of us lucky enough to entertain the Small Ones regularly have learned a few things on this topic along the bumpy road. In the spirit of sparing others, G-ma offers adult hosts the following precautions as food for thought before the next invasion. These are generally applicable to all ages of Small Ones who have achieved self-propelled status. Ignore them at your peril.
- What’s the view, down there? Crawling around on the floor yourself to test the environment for toddler safety is not recommended; it could be injurious to knees and other body parts. Your orthopedist has already accumulated significant personal wealth resulting from the shenanigans of the over-50 population. Lean WAY down and eyeball it, or perhaps using the occasional yogic squat, for this examination. Yet another reason to commend yoga to grandparents.
- Cover yourself. Literally. Choose your most modest and stable nightwear when they visit you overnight. This protects your sense of modesty and their lifelong image of you, should they wake you up at 3 a.m. to announce they have wet the bed.
- Man’s best friend is the child’s best vacuum cleaner. Unless you are monitoring food consumption within about a six-inch safety perimeter, only feed the children things the dog can safely eat. Dogs learn fast, and never forget, that a meal with children is one of life’s great bonanzas of crumbs and handouts. Prepare accordingly. You can’t prevent it.
- Watch out for stool dancers; they start young. Toddlers with the habit of dancing and prancing incessantly should not be offered stools or anything similar to elevate their view of the kitchen counter or other hard surfaces. This precaution is especially critical for adults sensitive to the sight of blood, and for those who prefer not to be involved in the elimination of baby teeth.
- No shoes? No socks, either. If the children have been thoughtfully trained to remove their shoes upon arrival at your house, better get the socks off quickly if you have hardwood or tile floors. Pay particular heed to this concept if the visitors are siblings who, when annoyed with each other, tend to give chase. (Also see above reference to blood and teeth.)
- Is your safety shelf really safe? If you’ve developed the commendable habit of putting matches, fireplace lighters, and other hazardous items on your highest shelf, ponder what else you’ve hidden there before sending other grownups thither. Otherwise, you may lose your best dark chocolate or that tiny bottle of expensive bourbon to visiting adults who count rather broadly on your generosity as a host.
When the inevitable incidents do occur, we might subvert painful guilt if we endeavor to remember the universal resiliency of children. After one painful episode involving a crash of grandchild into furniture at my house not long ago, I confessed to my daughter my sorrow that I couldn’t stop it in time. A very careful but still pragmatic mom, she gave my report a cheerful, verbal shrug: “Mom, it happens all the time. They get over it. I’m sure they are fine.”