Vatabedian: How Not to Childproof Your Home

I have five grandchildren who are absolute angels—until they visit my home. Then they turn into bulldozers and raise havoc with my belongings. That’s when the devil in them surfaces.

Okay, so the 7-month-old has yet to be housebroken but his two brothers, ages 2 and 3, more than take control of matters. They have two cousins, ages 8 and 6, who compete for attention by adding to the turmoil.

Great when they’re alone, but put them together and it’s disaster. I don’t blame them. I fault myself for exposing my vulnerability. I make it too easy for them to get into mischief.

Take last year, for instance, when they dropped by for Mother’s Day. Oops! I had left a box of chocolates on the coffee table and the next thing I knew, it pulled a disappearing act. An overdose of sugar is like putting octane into a racer. Out of control.

Had I known better, the chocolates would have gone into the closet along with my wife’s silverware, out of view.

Why I had left my CDs exposed is anybody’s guess. Fine when they were in the den but right there accessible in the living room. The 3-year-old zoomed right to the cache and in one fell swoop, dropped them to the floor.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he began opening the jackets and flipped them around like Frisbees until there were CDs flying by my head straight toward the windows. For every one I retrieved, two others found their mark elsewhere, including my favorite Neil Diamond collection.

I called a “time out” and invited the gang to settle down and work on some puzzles. Big mistake. Four boxes were opened and it turned in to a “mix and match” game. The Sesame Street characters found their way into the Loony Tunes box. And the Santa puzzle just happened to get mixed with the Easter Bunny.

Why I didn’t think of one box at a time is beyond me. It took me half a day to straighten it all out by myself.

The magnetic dart game I always hide behind the sofa needs a new spot. The 6-year-old retrieved it and hung the bulls-eye mat over the handle to the glass door. “One dart for everyone,” he yelled.

Had I stepped into the line of fire, my death benefits would have kicked in. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve them all before any damage was done. I found a place for them inside the refrigerator.

Movie time!

“This will keep them quiet,” I assumed.

The 2-year-old had already been up to his tricks by hiding the remote that was left out and pushed all the wrong buttons to throw the system out of kilter. Nothing worked.

The DVDs were strewn about the floor like the aftermath of a bargain sale. Having a stereo system unprotected is worse than an arcade free-for-all. In goes one button and out comes another. The volume gets turned to 10 and on comes a rock station that’s 7.5 on the Richter scale.

The crayons were strewn about and the photo album I had on a coffee table featuring their Disney trip had pages torn away and crinkled. A paint set was retrieved from a desk drawer, ready for activity. The only brush available was turned into fragments.

The little rubber ducky we had purchased for each of the little ones found better pleasure in a toilet bowl. No way could I childproof that unless I flushed out the water and turned the valve. What if nature suddenly called?

We’re our own worst enemies. Into the top departments we go, looking for merchandise to keep them occupied and the urge to hide it all suddenly becomes overwhelming. What kids can’t see, they can’t destroy or turn your home into an endangered zone.

Putting everything under lock and key might be akin to a prison, and who wants to turn a home into one when the children visit? Besides, I have insurance.

I recall once taking my own youngsters to a home where all the furnishings were covered with plastic and nothing was left in harm’s way. Quite frankly, it was a brazen atmosphere, one I would certainly not entertain for myself. We make it personable around here.

It’s always nice when we visit their home. No mess to clean. No damage done. The grandchildren seem to be more deliberate in their own surroundings. A broken window in the living room is in need of repair. One of the boys decided to try out a toy hammer.

The best thing about grandchildren is that you can enjoy them without supporting them. Still can’t find that remote.

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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1 Comment

  1. To Mr. Tom

    Without Babies singing voice 
    There is no life

    Without children 
    There are no songs to change our life

    Without grandchildren
    Our flat walls will never laugh 

    So bless your home
    And let God give you long life
    To see them always around… 

    And pray for Me
    To have the same

    And every Armenian home
    To be blessed by clever children
    And grandchildren alike.

    Sylva-MD-Poetry
    Written Instantly

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