Sunday, January 08, 2006

Countdown

Not so long ago, weekends began as mysteries. Where I would end up, who I would be with... would I wake up on someone's lawn... good times... Always a bit of magic in there though.
These days are a bit of a mystery too, but a different sort. When will Sam fall on his head... will Lily eat that crayon...if I stand more than four feet away, will Lily still be able to hit me with some high velocity vomit (yes, by the way, she can, and did on Saturday). To amuse myself, I have developed a "Someone's Hurt!" Injury Timetable (SHIT) for the kids. Over the course of an average day, I estimated that Sam will hurt himself about fifteen times, and Lily about ten. Only a small percentage of these injuries result in tears that last more than 30 seconds, but there are a significant number of injuries that can be avoided by employing the SHIT system. Here's what I do, feel free to try it with your kids -
First of all, the early stages if the system require a bit of intuitive parenting... educated guesswork, you might say. Start with an easy one to get yourself into the groove - for example, I've noticed that Sam can only run for about 30 paces max before he trips and hits the deck like a flounder. With a well timed distraction after about 20 paces ("hey look, a squirrel!" or "I think there is some yogurt under the car!") he'll pause and regain his footing just long enough to continue for the next 30 paces. The same distractions apply if he is trying to fit his head through a gate, or put his sister in the toilet - "hey look, a squirrel!" or "I think there is some yogurt under the car!" - and I have just enough time to extract Lily from the bowl. Lily was a bit harder to figure out, because she isn't fooled by the imaginary squirrels or yogurt, but a little physical comedy goes a long way with her... a fake slip on a banana peel or slapping yourself on the head will distract her every time.
This is where it gets a bit tricky. When they are left unattended, you have to assume that trouble is always brewing, and the countdown begins. If I'm in the kitchen, and everything gets quiet in the living room, there's about 45 seconds before somebody gets hurt. Believe it or not, I'm getting pretty good at the timing - as soon as I notice a lull, I can quickly finish whatever I'm in the middle of, and dash into the other room just in time to stop Sam from jumping off of the top of the couch. Lily has a telltale shuffle too - if the sound of her crawling across the floor seems particularly determined, odds are she is after something, and you have to reach her before the shuffle subsides. For all of the crap in our house, we're remarkably childproof, but she can get pretty creative, like trying to ease her teething pains on the sleeping dog, or seeing if she can fit her whole arm in the vcr. The key is to have both parents involved, so that if I'm tied up or on the phone and I notice something is awry, I can yell "SHIT!" so that Sara knows the "Someone's Hurt!" Injury Timetable has been activated, and she can get there to nip impending trouble in the bud.
System in place, our daily injuries decreased this weekend, but Sam has started cursing for some reason. I was thinking of renaming the system "Beware! Activate Response! Nearby Endangered Youth!" or "Red Alert! Find Falling Infant!" or even "Seriously, Protect Our Newborn! Get Everyone's Butts Outta Bedlam!" but they just don't seem to carry the same weight...

1 comment:

robin said...

ok, I'm trying out "shit" today. I will also try to determine how long a period of silence indicates that one of them is leaning just hard enough on the bouncy seat to make it start to tip over with the three month old in it. I'll let you know the time it takes me to sprint from the kitchen into the living room and catch Ryan before he goes crashing to the floor. Parenthood is full of wonderful discoveries about your own agility isn't it? Thanks for the laugh on a very dreary cold German Wednesday..

 
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