Violet is a baby living on the edge. She literally teeters on the edge of steps, sofas, Rubbermaid boxes, and any other surface that she can climb on top of with her limited upper body strength. Though Shawn and I have both been off work for the last month, I'll admit, we haven't supervised her 100% of that time. There haven't been any cases of egregious neglect--she hasn't been found wandering in the street clad only in a soiled diaper--but she's definitely been out of line of sight from time to time. It was a little bit of a shocker the afternoon I darted outside to ask Shawn a question and found my sweet little girl, crap loaded in her diaper, crouched on the floor eating the remnants of a peanut butter sandwich she'd scooped from the trash. My little baby bum is a toddler now and nothing brings her more joy than toddling away from her Mommy and Daddy.
Because I know that there is no way to make sure she will never get hurt, I have learned how to pick and choose the hazards I'll allow. The first thing to sort out was hazard vs. annoyance. A hazard would be Violet getting into the cabinets under the kitchen sink and sampling the cleaning products we store under there. An annoyance is Violet getting into the cabinet under our bathroom sink and chewing on the ends of every tampon in a Costco-sized box before she scatters them from one end of the bedroom to the other.
There are a lot of real hazards in the world and even these aren't all easy to protect her from. For instance, the stairs are still largely no-no's for Violet. I have seen her crawl up and now (be still my nervous heart!) I've now seen her back her way all the way down our flight of stairs. I know that she knows how to descend on her belly when that is her goal. I've also seen her roll a ball down the hallway and then sway ever so gut-wrenchingly, over the top stair as she watches it bounce down, step by step. The thought of her tumbling down the stairs scares the bejesus out of me so I'm *mostly* always diligent about gating her on one level. This morning, as I was ------ing (making the bed or drying my hair or putting laundry away or doing one of the other zillion things I do that keep me from focusing all of my attention on my 14 month old), she made a beeline for the stairs. I jumped in front of her to put the baby gate up and turned her around hoping she would find something to while away the next 2 (or 5 or 10 or 12 or 20) minutes so I could finish making/drying/putting/doing task. Unless she's wrecked tired, she's usually fairly easy to re-direct.
She did an about-face and rather than f-ing with me by going down the stairs, she went toward the tools that hang next to the fireplace in our bedroom. These are long, metal shovels and pokers--definitely not approved for baby. But they are also heavy and hard to get out of their holder. So I watched Violet slam them against the brick hearth over and over and I went about my business. There was no imminent danger to her from the fireplace tools, but if she pulled the same shit at someone else's house, I wouldn't let her do it. It doesn't look good, safety-wise, and the metal poker slamming on brick sounds even worse. But, she was entertained by them for a while and that is more than I can say Elmo did for me this morning. And, once I finished my hair/laundry/bed making, it is a lot easier to pick up some tampons out of the fireplace than take the child to the ER for falling down the stairs. That's how I play risky behavior roulette.