Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2003 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
Safety first, even when danger has passed
We have two kids in college and one in high school, yet I just
dragged a chair over to a kitchen cabinet so I could retrieve felt-tipped
markers from a top shelf. What's wrong with this picture?
The red, green, black and blue Sharpies are bundled together with
a rubber band and hidden behind a meat thermometer and a pedestal cake
plate. I began keeping the markers up high when the kids were little and
never got around to moving them down low. I guess it's time. It's been ages
since any of them even wrote on their hands, let alone the walls. Then
again, the oldest did splatter-paint a pair of his shoes in the name of art
The markers stay.
My husband complains that to find a box of matches he has to
tunnel his way to the far back of a pantry shelf behind boxes of Jell-O,
cereal, pasta and snack crackers. Even when he worms his way to the back of
the cabinet, the matches are sealed in a round tin that is difficult to open.
"A man shouldn't have to work this hard to get a simple match," he
"I keep them there for safety purposes," I snap. "Little boys are
fascinated with flames."
He looks me and says, "The little boy is 22. He goes camping on a
regular basis and can start a bonfire with chips of flint and dryer lint."
"Maybe," I answer. "But I couldn't sleep at night knowing the
matches were within reach of little hands. The matches stay."
"I suppose you're going to keep winding up the cords on the
mini-blinds every morning, too," he says.
"You betcha. I know nobody's going to tie anybody else up in them,
but when they're all home and get to roughhousing, someone could catch a
foot in there and it could get ugly."
"You don't think the ugly part would be when the mini-blinds
ripped off the wall?"
The markers, matches and cords stay; however, I announce that I am
open to negotiating the outlet covers and latches on the cupboard doors
under the kitchen sink. "Those can go," I say. "At least on a trial basis,
we'll try removing them for a couple of weeks. If anyone even looks like he
or she might be thinking about sticking a car key into an outlet, the
covers go back on."
"I think we're safe," he says.
"Good, because safety is what I'm about," I say. "And hey, turn
the handle on the pan to the back of the stove would you? And where do you
think you're going with that empty plastic bag?"
"Listen," he says, opening a concealed compartment in the
silverware drawer where I hide serrated steak knives, "I know these things
can be hard for you, but I think it's time we take the foam padding off the
corners of the coffee table. If any of them rammed into the coffee table
now, all they'd hurt are their shins."
"So the children's shins don't mean anything to you?" I say.
"Fine, but I'm still tucking the tablecloth corners under the table. I'm
not comfortable taking chances. And don't start with me about putting
poinsettias on top of the bookshelf every year."
"The danger of anyone chewing on the poisonous leaves and berries
is absolutely nil," he says. "Their taste buds have matured considerably.
You're just having a hard time letting go."
"Not at all I say," as we sit down to dinner. " I'm making
"Can I cut your meat for you?"
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© 2001, Lori Borgman
JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
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