Safety at Grandma’s House

Amy Dickinson writes the “Ask Amy,” column nationally, reprinted in the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida.  In her January 22, 2013 column, she printed a response to her previous advice written by “Amaya’s Gramma,” which is worth repeating.  If you did not see it:

Dear Amy:  I’m responding to the letter from “Frustrated” who was accused of being overly protective and neurotic in supervising her 4 year old son at the grandparents’ home.  Your suggestion was to “let your child have some freedom, but watch the perimeter.”

In September, my 2 year old granddaughter was killed trying to climb a stand which held a television.  Albeit the television should not have been on that particular stand to begin with, I believe in my heart that had she been supervised at the time she started to climb, she would be alive today.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon incident.  Merely watching the perimeter would not prevent an injury or death to a child.  Kudos to “Frustrated” for knowing that it is her responsibility to keep her son safe.” Signed, Amaya’s Gramma

OMG!  I am neurotic when I am watching my grandchildren.  I am more concerned than I was with my children.  I have had conversations with my grandma friends.  We all say the same thing.  It is more responsibility, more stressful, more difficult to watch our grandchildren than when our children were little.  After all, I am older and not as agile (although I would not admit that publicly).  My grandma friends and I lament that if something happened to our grandchild in our care, we could not live with ourselves.  I love early mornings and before bedtime when my grandchildren are tired.  I know they are in my bed or their bed and cannot get hurt.  I love when they are sleeping.  They cannot get hurt.  When they are awake I am near them always, watching.

Grandpa and I sold our house and started anew when our youngest went to college.  She was a challenge and we wanted a fresh start.  We created a home for two adults.  All white furniture and cabinets.  All white walls and slippery white tile floors.  Glass tables and sculptures with pointy edges.  Grandchildren were not even a thought, much less a consideration.  We were glad we could do what we wanted with our home.  I know many of us adapted our homes to having older children and no children when our children left home.

Foam wood playmatEnter grandchild nearly seven years later.  Safety in our home is difficult but Grandpa and I are now in a rhythm.  Before grandchildren arrive, we go room by room and remove everything we can and put everything out of reach.  We move furniture and remove furniture.  We make counters bare and tables bare. (We are pretty minimalistic so this is not as hard as it seems).  We block off one area which is covered with those foam squares that make a soft floor.  Now you can get them in a wood tone.  (Click here) $40 covers a large area.  Before our first grandson was mobile, we bought furniture corner covers and outlet covers and drawer locks and cabinet locks and door locks and everything we could find to make our home safer.  We bought a pac n play in which to deposit a baby or toddler if we have to pee!  Taking a small grandchild into the bathroom when you are indisposed can put the child in danger.

Every time we think we remembered everything, our youngest toddler grandson seems to find something we missed!  Amazing!  What we did not realize was that our low modern glass tables are a climbing magnet.  Oh, my!  Yes, we have had near misses and our hearts drop.  But, we try our best.

Now, I’ll address the white everything in our home.  I cry when the grandchildren leave.  I refuse to remove the handprints from the walls and windows and sliding glass doors.  I only remove what may become a stain.  It takes up to a week for me to allow the handprint removal.  The white.  We don’t care.  People are more important than things.  Our grandchildren are the most important people in the world.  Yes, even Grandpa is okay with grandchildren’s messes on the white everything, so long as they are not in danger.  I think the parents of our grandchildren are shocked.

I agree with Amaya’s Gramma and my heart goes out to her.  I usually agree with Amy, but this time she is off.  We all need to be overly protective and neurotic in supervising our precious cargo.  If a Grandparent won’t do it, absolutely the parent must do it.

How often do you think the parents of your grandchildren will bring them for a visit if your attitude as a grandma is that nothing in your home will be moved and the grandchildren have to just learn not to touch?  How often will you be asked to care for your grandchildren alone to spoil them at will if you are perceived as not careful enough?

I guess this is one of those grandparent choices.  Sometimes life’s priorities and limitations cause such.  Different grandparents for different lives and different families are totally fine.   None of us, though, want to have Amaya’s Gramma’s heartache ever.  That, we must do all we can to prevent.  To safety at Grandma’s house and

Empathy to those in pain,


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