Childproofing For The Childless
Ok, I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to be done with the CF stuff for a minute and work on the other articles that I’ve been neglecting. But god damn it, is this overly kid-obsessed society annoying! I saw an article on Jezebel some time back, called Childproofing For The Childless, and boy, was it filled with parental entitlement and condescension for childfree people. Whatever, I let it go. Then I read another article recently on Retail Me Not Insider that was at least it’s bad and went by the title of Childproofing Tips for the Childless. The message of which was, to me, ‘not only are guests with kids entitled to how you arrange your home, but also to how you spend your money.’
The first article is completely ridiculous. Apparently, non-parents have very messy homes in which we habitually leave poisons and drugs out in the open. Oh, and we like to decorate with porn (seriously, wtf?). Holy shit, does this author have any childless/free friends? If she does, I doubt that their homes are anything like what she describes or else she sorely needs to reexamine who she chooses to hang out with. I don’t even have kids and I certainly wouldn’t visit some who seriously lives in a dump carpeted with broken glass, dirty needles, and dildos. Yeah, I actually found Jezebel’s article about childproofing insulting to childfree people for the advice the author finds necessary to give. We’re all a bunch of drug-addled, sex-addicted, slobs, apparently.
All I know is that my home hasn’t tried to kill me yet. Nobody in their right mind just leaves the floor littered with sharp objects and poisons. There’s no gaping hole in my floor over a tiger pit. My home is not dangerous. If things like the contents of my cupboards, the things on my shelves, or my electrical outlets are any threat at all to a child (or vice versa) that means that the parent has failed, not me.
Oh, and as for the advice about locking my animal in another room, FUCK OFF! My dog lives here. This is her home. The kid’s the guest. If anything, I’d be more inclined to shut the kid down in a separated room. That would save me the hassle of having to childproof the rest of the house, anyway. But as long as the kid in question is raised at least as well as my dog, that won’t be necessary.
While the first article was all about childproofing on short notice, the second one is about childproofing way in advance, just in case. And by “childproofing,” it means buying tons of expensive kindercrap, despite the fact that I have no kids, only some of which actually has anything to do with childproofing at all. The following is the list of demands:
- The North State Superyard XT Portable Playard – $49.50, or Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard -$91.54
- Chicco Caddy’s Hook On High Chair – $37.99, or Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair- $59.99
- Safety First Infant-to-Toddler Tub – $11.99
- Just Kidz Yellow Duckie -$6.40 (a child-proofing must? Really?)
- ProGrade Dual Action Outlet Protector – $3.99
- KidCo Auto Close Center Gateway – $84.95
- Corner cushions – $10.49
If one follows the shopping list, they can expect to pay between $205.31 and $269.35. Um, that’s a lot for someone who actually has kids to spend on these things. I’m guessing most parents except for the very wasteful went for more economical alternatives on a number of these things, if they felt any were necessary to buy at all.. But to expect someone who doesn’t even have kids to shell out this much just in case a parent decides to grace them with their kids’ presence? Fuck. That.
I’m noticing that most of these items are easily portable. If any parent really felt they absolutely needed to have these things for their visit, they could easily purchase the items themselves and bring them with when they visit. Expecting a host to spend this much money on junk for a guest is just insane and goes far beyond reasonable expectations of hospitality. Hell, part of the reason a lot of us don’t have kids is because we don’t want to deal with kid-related expenses such as these, and certainly don’t want this crap in our homes.
The article, when making these demands, explains that most women don’t have the luxury of a nanny and lacking these things at your home, these poor mothers would have to scurry back to their own homes to tend to the baby. Um, I’m pretty sure a babysitter would cost a lot less than $200!
Both of these articles assume that the child will be allowed to explore the host’s home, and do so without the attention of the parent. Um, fuck no. If the kid is young enough that that it’s a real danger to my home or vice versa, it’s staying in it’s carrier or the parent’s lap for the visit, or will be otherwise secured. It will not be granted free access to roam my house, and certainly won’t be left unattended by the parent for a minute. Older children, ones who aren’t likely to break anything or find some way to harm themselves will be told which portions of the house are acceptable to visit (my bedroom, for instance, is ALWAYS off-limits. Even my boyfriend can’t come in without permission, and he lives here!) For such children, only the occasional check-in would likely be necessary.
But the fail goes on. I’ll ignore that they assume that children are even welcome in the home at all (some people don’t allow kids in general, kids under a certain age, or specific kids for various reasons,) as that’s the scenario being addressed. I’ll even ignore that it expects the host to care about childproofing at all. What these articles fail to do is address the responsibilities of the parents. All of this childproofing is completely unnecessary if the parent guest just acts like a responsible parent. If I went to the home of a non-dog-owner, I wouldn’t expect the place to be dog-proofed, stock dogfood and dishes, and I sure as hell wouldn’t expect the host to allow me to just let my dog wander free in their house without me still taking responsibility for watching it. No. Fucking. Way.
I have yet to see an article that addresses the issue of a parent with a small kid visiting a childfree person’s house that went like this:
Don’t bring your kid unless you know that they’re welcome. If you have to, arrange for a sitter. If you’re not willing to cut the umbilical chord for a few hours, politely decline the invitation. Consider having the meeting at your own home.
If the child is welcome, be aware that you, not your host, are the one who is responsible for it. It is your responsibility to bring all items that you believe the child will need during the visit, it is your responsibility to watch the child and keep it under control and out of trouble, and it is your responsibility to protect your host’s home from your child..
If you expect a long visit and will be needing supplies, bring them. There is no reason to expect someone without kids to keep a high-chair or a crib around. Be sure to bring adequate food, toys, and diapers, as well as anything else you might need. Be sure to take all of these things with you when you leave. As for dirty diapers, dispose of them in an outside bin or dumpster, not inside the house.
Manners will be expected. Do try to keep your child under control and quiet, or, if you can’t, consider taking them home. Closely watch any interactions between your kid and your host’s pet to ensure that the the kid handles them properly. Be sure to clean up any messes your child might make. Be courteous.
Remember that your going into someone else’s home, do not expect it to be completely baby-proof beyond being clean. If you don’t like minding your own child, don’t like the layout of your host’s home, or don’t like your host’s display items – simply leave. Don’t expect the home to be rearranged for the arrival of yourself and your kid for short visits.
Nor have I ever seen a babyproofing article that went like this:
1. Lock your doors.
2. Use birth control.
Edit: As for childproofing, I only take care of basic safety concerns. Right now, I’m working on getting a cover for my basement’s fire escape as, outside, it’s a hole in the ground. It’s not a pressing concern as most people are intelligent enough to avoid falling in, but I do still see accidents as a possibility. What I’m not going to do though is pad every corner, cover every electrical outlet, or install cumbersome baby-gates when no children live here. As for buying things, I might choose to buy a few toys, just to be nice, but I don’t feel that I should be required or expected to. Nor am I buying any of that expensive baby stuff recommended in the second article. I might purchase a few snacks and juices for a kid prior to an expected visit, just as I would make an effort to have refreshments prepared for any other guest. That’s it. I’m inviting guests over, not starting a nursery.