Friday, June 24, 2005

We have a Guardian Angel

We have one chest of drawers in our house. Just the one. When we moved in we used to have things like a dresser, a tall corner unit, and wardrobes. Now, everything except this chest of drawers (and the kitchen table) is built in or screwed to a wall. This was not a design decision, it was a decision made from necessity. You see my eldest daughter, J, is accident prone. If something can fall over, it will. And even things that theoretically cannot fall over, do.

It started with the pine corner unit that used to stand in our hall, displaying a pot plant, a pot of paint (which shouldn’t have been there, but I was glossing down that end of the house and was too much of a lazy mare to put it away) and storing board games. It stood innocently, minding its own business and being decorative, until J came along and attempted her Jack and beanstalk act. The pot of paint got squashed (literally, and all over the hall carpet) and the pot plant lost its life, but J walked away without even a bruise. My brother inherited the corner unit within the week. We considered this a learning experience, teaching us that each and every child is different, and although neither of our boys had taken to climbing furniture for no apparent reason, some kids do.

Next came the fridge incident. My four door American style dream fridge that I begged my husband for, and eventually after many favours given, had shipped over from England. How can a three year old child pull a fridge over? I was standing four feet away and am still not certain. The manufacturer says it simply cannot happen, but it did. I was so grateful and amazed J survived, I didn’t look back as the fridge was carted away. From this experience we learnt that no object should have handles children can swing from – even if said object looks as sturdy as a mountain.

Then we had the wardrobe door episode. The doors each had three hinges, three screw per hinge, so how a door fell off and onto her as she ran past is a mystery. The screws still hung from the hinges and she swears she didn’t knock or touch it. My brother was able to sort his spare room storage that weekend. At this point I started to wonder if we have a poltergeist.

By now you can probably guess what happened yesterday evening. Yep, the chest of drawers went over. But it wasn’t J, now S is getting in on the act! The chest sat in the kitchen and housed the children’s pens and paper. As I was in the next room reading with P, I have to take R and J’s word for what happened, but it seems S opened the drawers and climbed them like stairs. I knew from the sound what had happened before I even reached the room. The only surprise was, it wasn’t J! Luckily it is medium weight piece of furniture and as I lifted, S was able to scramble out. Whereupon I began screaming at her, which with hindsight, was a horrid thing to do. But I’ve become a nervous wreak and been scared too many times to be rational in a crises!

What am I supposed to do? If I heard about someone else’s children having this many accidents, I would imagine they were letting their kids run wild without supervision. But no-one else I know is as overprotective as me (except for one mother, whose son is allergic to everything and so she hovers three feet away, epi-pen at the ready). Our house is a fortress of child-proof gadgets, and other people can trust their children out of their sight for more than thirty seconds. Some even dare to allow their offspring to go into the back garden without them; when I did that J ate a plant!!

It’s bad enough in our own home, but you should see me when we visit other peoples. It’s incredibly rude the way I go around pulling on furniture to check the stability and close off rooms I deem too risky. Up until now, J has been the one you have to watch like a hawk, and I'm really not sure I have the energy for two like this!

Our latest rule is that the girls now have to be in my sight all of the time (not that that guarantees anything) which is testing us all (especially when I made them accompany me into the office to check my email and J flicked a little switch on the back of my husband's monitor ~ it gave us quite a start when it went bang!).

S thankfully has just one bruise to show for her escapade, and the chest of drawers now stands empty and awaits removal.

My brother says his house is full, so it’s off to the tip.


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