There is an imaginary line in every room, every shopping mall, every street… everywhere. This imaginary line is about four foot high, and anything left below this line will be cause, or consequence, of the most hostile of abuse. For most folk, this line is invisible – non-existent – but for the parent of a toddler, this line is the first fucking thing you see when you enter a room. For you see, this line isn’t imaginary at all; it is the boundary between life and death; between sanity and insanity. We call it ‘The Reach Zone’.
You will always know when you’re standing in the home of a small child – there is nothing… nothing beneath this line that isn’t made by Fisher Price or Mattel. And when you see the parent’s of one of these little sprouts enter the room of a regular person (a “normal”, we call them), you will see the palpable expression of panic appear on said parent’s face. “Holy shit, they keep stuff on the coffee table?”, “What the hell is that? It looks expensive!” and always “Oh Jesus, is that a fucking candle? Save us!!!”
My Dad used to remind us, my brother and I, of the time we shattered my Uncle’s expensive guitar while they sat in the next room chatting. I have no recollection of this, and thus only minor guilt, which I think pisses my Uncle off almost as much as the incident itself. But seriously, who doesn’t hear two toddlers obliterate a fucking acoustic guitar in the next room?
You become so accustomed to keeping stuff out of your kid’s reach, that it becomes automatic. Nothing gets left out. Everything of danger to a toddler (and that’s everything) is kept hidden, not just from arms reach, but from sight too. And everything that is in danger from a child gets the same treatment (that too is pretty much everything). You are a fucking ninja at keeping your house as safe and damage free as possible. The only danger you face is complacency. That, or arrogance, will be your undoing. Because it might take a while, but eventually you will fuck up.
Today, my three year old boy got a hold of the Desitin. Do I need to continue? I could end this post now, and it wouldn’t matter: because already you have a picture of the unmitigated carnage that befell our household today. Thankfully I was at work when this happened, for two reasons: firstly, I’d have been blamed, and second, I’d have had to assist in cleaning it up. Actually, my wife would have diligently rolled up her sleeves and got to work, while I sweated, panicking; dabbing here and there at large mounds of thick, white, glutinous paste (or what the missus calls a Saturday night – kidding, kidding). All the while my wife would clean up 99% of the mess. Which is exactly what happened, except I got to remain relatively sweat free from the confines of work.
Suffice it to say, the Desitin has been placed far beyond the reach of tiny fingers, where it shall remain. And probably three or four years from now, when my son is old enough to know better, and my daughter is patrolling the lower reaches of our home, we’ll find jars of hot pink nail polish dumped across the beige carpets of our bedroom floor. Because it might take a while, but eventually you will fuck up.