And the bookcase had to go. They could pull the books out, climb its shelves and pull it down. Ditto for their dressers whose drawers they could empty and then knock down on each other.
"Your Mommy is very, very, very bad," I told them. They nodded solemnly.
And we could forget about the battles I had with my husband over the toilet seat. We had two choices, according to the magazines: lock it up or remove it. Toilets are big hazards, the safety experts warn. Kids can fall inside and drown. I have a friend who locks her toilet, something I discovered at an inopportune time. I had to run into the hall calling for help as I danced a little jig and cursed the cups of coffee I'd just consumed (near the kids nonetheless, another bad move because I could've spilled it on them and given them serious burns).
I made another notation, "Get a lock or ditch the john." We have woods in the back of our house . . .
Even in their bedrooms, I found hazards. In addition to their dressers – which one of the catalogues suggested we bolt to the walls so they won't fall over – there were the cribs. I'd already made sure that the cribs met safety standards and that I kept soft, plush bedding away to avoid suffocation hazards. But then I looked at their sheets and remembered an article I'd read about the crib sheets that came untucked and choked a child to death. I had to buy brands that had ample room and tucked more than two inches under the mattress to assure that they won't slip off. Next notation: "New, childproof sheets. No Teletubby patterns. (See TV note above)."
In the master bedroom, I found not only dressers, but also pieces of jewelry that could be choking hazards. I shuddered when I looked at the bed and remembered how I'd brought the kids to sleep with my husband and I when they were newborns. Another study came out recently warning that parents could kill their babies by rolling over and suffocating them in bed. A government agency was warning that parents should never let babies sleep with them. "Get rid of jewelry. No kids in bed," I scrawled.
When my list was done, I pulled out the phone book, keeping a close eye on my mischievous tots, and looked up the number for the nearest body guard service. I told Commander Ed, the head body guard, to send a team over ASAP.
After they arrived, I made them strip down and shower with anti-bacterial soap while I washed their clothing in a special detergent to ward off any toxic chemicals, offensive odors and potential biological warfare agents. I then ran a criminal background check on them while they were getting dressed. (You never know.)
Once they were all clean, I assigned two agents per child and charted out a zone defense for them to implement.
By that time, all the childproofing mechanisms I needed arrived by Federal Express. I had one of the body guards install them, while I took his place. Once he was done, and all the offending items had been bolted, locked, cushioned or removed, he resumed his defensive post in the kitchen.
Then, and only then, could I safely go into the bathroom to pee.
What a good mother I am.
Meredith O'Brien is a freelance writer and the mother of toddler twins.