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Tag Archives: playpens

Demons Are Prowling Everywhere*

Did you know you can childproof every single electrical outlet in your home for just $20 each?  And a $30 bracket will harness that lightweight (unsightly) lethal flat screen television?  There are also electric cord shorteners, doorknob covers, toilet seat locks and childproof window treatments.  Remember when everyone was up in arms over the (now quaint) childproofing of pill bottles?

It seems that while I was quietly mastering the push down twist of my vitamin bottle, the world has become a perilous, Raiders of the Lost Ark place for small children.  Evidently even baby monitors are lethal.  An aside; I never really understood the baby monitor.  How big is someone’s home that they can’t hear the ear piercing cry of a child?   Or are they used to quell paranoia?  What is that baby saying about you while it feigns a nap, huh?  While we’re on the subject of my limited understandings; what’s with the toilet seat lock?  Is it a drowning concern?  A flushing of valuable items concern?  I am in need of enlightenment.

The advent of those little plastic outlet covers have no doubt saved many little ones from electrocution.  (Reportedly, they are too difficult for today’s parent to use and hence the $20 per outlet solution.)  Kitchens and medicine cabinets will always demand rethinking.  Unless your little one has rappelling gear, moving everything on up should solve any problems.  When my brother was at his most dangerous and destructible, cleaning solutions went into the upper cabinets and foods went into the lower.  It went well until we awoke to find him happily playing in a pile of grains on the kitchen floor.  That night, hook and eye locks were installed on the kitchen doors.  Problem solved.

Like exposure to dirt and germs, children need minor controlled exposure to cause and effect.  A bump on the head, scraped knee, burned finger tip are the ways we learn our (and the world’s) limitations.  Might I suggest that parents who feel they are living in a house of horrors, introduce themselves to a playpen.

Wait for it.  There it is.  “THERE IS NO PRICE ON SAFETY!”  Look, I am safety girl.  I took Robin’s admonition to Batman to; “buckle up for safety” quite seriously.  But I also am a disciple of the principles of cost/benefit ratios.  Confiscating my room service pots of jam are not keeping the passengers on my commuter flight any safer.  That confiscation served to entertain a bored TSA elder in a one-horse town.  Turning one’s own home into Fort Knox also contributes to a false sense of security.  But even more detrimental is how it initiates an imbalance into the home.  (Brace yourself, there’s gonna be outrage)  Children don’t pay the rent/mortgage, adults do.  It is the adults’ home and the children live there.  If you’re still reading, why not set the tone when the little one first arrives?  The baby can be contained (infant seat, playpen) both for his/her safety and your sanity.  The world (particularly the corporate world) loves to make new parents feel insecure.  The unsolicited advice starts pouring in at almost the moment of conception.  May I please (perhaps be the first) to tell you that you are doing everything right.  People have been surviving childhood for a very long time.  Parenting is not a spectator sport.  Relax, go snuggle with your little one in your home filled with sharp edges, it will all be fine.

*Stephen Sondheim – Sweeney Todd (1979)

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Childhood

 

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The Boobie Tube

More than half of American babies watch television for about two hours a day.  One third of babies have televisions in their bedrooms.  Babies.  Those under two years of age.  What little I know of human development, I’m guessing they are not using the remote.  This suggests that an adult is turning on the television for the baby.  I have so many questions I hardly know where to start.

I think I understand the concept of putting a baby down in front of a television.  It has to do with giving the adult a reprieve, yes?  May I suggest a moratorium on the demonization of the playpen.  You remember the playpen?  It is a box filled with toys, books, and cuddly things that kept tykes safe.  It was how we controlled their environment, versus gating and locking our environment.  Babies could happily entertain themselves while floors got cleaned or adults took showers.  Now, if my presumption is accurate, that television is being used in lieu of a playpen, I have to ask; what show is being watched?  Does it matter?  Is it just the sound that is pacifying the babe?  If so, how about music and a busybox?  Forget the quality of television for a moment.  Can anything be gained, developmentally, from staring at a screen?  (That is not a rhetorical question.)

The nursery television leaves me a bit more confused.  What in the world is going on there?  Is the baby being left alone with the television on?  To what end?

Before you think I am anti-media or (gasp) anti-television, let me assure you I am most certainly not.  At 14, I ecstatically received a hulking 35 inch wood-framed black and white television set.  Painted yellow.  That only got channel 7, which was fine as this was during ABC’s heyday.  For my 16th birthday my wishes were granted with my very own portable television, which received all seven channels!  I brought it with me to college.  I love t.v.  It’s one of my best friends.

What I don’t love is blanket social inequities.  According to the Kaiser Foundation, in families with incomes under $30,000, 64% of children younger than 8 had televisions in their rooms.  In families with incomes above $75,000. the number drops to 20%.  I doubt 100% of the blame shouldn’t be placed upon the importing of cheap electronic goods.  It certainly doesn’t help that a television is no longer a luxury item.  But perhaps something larger is at play.  Even back when televisions were far too dear for the middle-class, Muffy and Biff were not squired away in their nursery watching television.

While I shy from being an alarmist, I truly suspect that there is something a tad sinister in play.  “Progress” has brought us inexpensive food-like substitutes, flavored “drink” and access to electronic noise.  There is a school of thought that maintains that the plethora of liquor stores, cigarette ads and cheap goods in low-income neighborhoods is part of a scheme to quell the underclass.  Television is a very effective pacifier.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Childhood, Media/Marketing

 

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