Childproofing for a Teenager
Spoiler Alert: No offspring were harmed in the making of this post.
So we live in this strange state of semi-childproof daily living.
There are things we don’t need to worry about (like the tops of staircases), but there are surprising things that we have to secure (like the soap). It’s a little like living with an army of toddlers, except their destructive energy and cumulative weight all occupy a single teenager’s body.
We have a baby gate, but it’s not at the top of the stairs to prevent a fall… It’s at the bottom of the stairs to keep a certain someone out of the cat boxes and laundry products.
We have doorknobs that have the nearly-impossible-to-use covers on them, but not to keep Nolan from running (we actually invested in a home security system for that…) No, they’re to protect every surface of our home from being covered with any soap, lotion, shampoo or other semi-liquid substance in the house. You’d be amazing how slippery a soap-covered floor can be even when it’s dry.
This is what happens when I forget a full bottle of shampoo in the shower.
In other cases, we put things up in high places. That strategy won’t last us very long, though… He’s already well over 5 feet tall and can reach the dish soap we keep on top of the refrigerator without the use of tiptoes. Otherwise, we just have to put things in cupboards that aren’t typically on his radar and pray that he doesn’t get curious.
Short of investing in a safe to house my Head & Shoulders, those are our best options right now.
And even at that, we still have to be vigilant.
This weekend, I made the mistake of leaving some cleaning supplies on our porch… It’s a screen porch, and the roof leaks a little in heavy rain. Needless to say it’s started to get a bit of mildew, so I started trying to clean it up. As with many projects, I got pulled away before I had finished, so I emptied my bucket and left the sponge mop and jug of bleach on the porch knowing that I’d come back when I was able.
Obviously it was a mistake. And a big one.
I came out of the bathroom later to find he’d dumped most of it on the floor (it was a nearly-full jug). He was happily playing in the puddle.
I screamed Nolan’s name loud enough that I scared him along with (I assume) most of the neighbors in a 3-block radius. Now frozen with fear, Nolan had no desire to go anywhere with the crazy lady I’d suddenly become… But I did move him to the shower as quickly as I possibly could. Kirk did his best to steer the cats away from the puddle, and eventually I shut the porch all together so that I could get the mess cleaned up to the best of my ability.
In all, we’d lost the pants and t-shirt he was wearing (RIP “I didn’t mean to push all of your buttons- I was just looking for mute” shirt) along with an old towel. Somehow the aging indoor-outdoor carpet was no worse than it started.
Most importantly, Nolan was unharmed. Probably disappointed that I’d taken away his own miniature waterpark after only a few seconds of play, but otherwise unharmed.
The incident later that day when he found an open adult beverage left unattended (another potty run) felt minor in comparison.
A few quick points about that incident:
1. He had about two drinks of a hard seltzer.
2. This is why I rarely drink and even more often don’t drink before Nolan is asleep for the night.
3. Nolan will steal any beverage from anyone at any time if he thinks he can get away with it. Consider yourself warned.
4. This was completely, totally and 100% my fault-- as was the earlier incident.
Between that and our hike last week where I tried to get us shot by turkey hunters, that’s three times I could’ve killed my child this week. It’s not a record I’m proud of.
No matter how vigilant we try to be, we’re human. We get tired, and our defenses falter… Plus, we’re going to make mistakes. We try to learn from these events and let them remind us how important the things we’re already trying to keep up with are.
As parents, we all want to protect our kids. Instead of protecting Nolan from things like peer pressure, bullies, and the bad decisions that can accompany anyone’s teenage years, we have to protect him from things like bleach and the temptations of dish soap. That’s how things work here.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have body wash to squeegee off of the bathroom floor...