Monday, 16 March 2009

Stair Gate - The Scandalous Tale Of An Over Protective Parent

About a month ago, whilst decorating and subsequently shifting furniture, we took off the top stair gate and decided that it was high time we left it that way. Small Child is almost four and whilst her bedroom door is the closest to the top of the stairs (poor planning which I now blame on pregnancy hormones), it doesn't mean that we need to leave it on until she reaches eighteen. On reflection, with thoughts of my attempts at teenage rebellion in mind, perhaps it should be left on until she’s twenty one!

Basking in my daylight hour bravery, I let Other Half stow it away in the attic both marveling at how much more open it made the landing seem and wondering how the hell we would ever get the indent out of the carpet. The twilight hours were a different story altogether.

Every night for the next week I lay in bed hanging on to the edge of sleep by a cotton wool thread, ready to jump out of my skin at the slightest hint of a noise. The noise that meant Small Child was about to wander sleepily from her room, be drawn by an invisible force towards the gaping chasm of the open stair way and for no sane reason, throw herself down it.

Of course this did not happen.  Ever so slowly it began to dawn on me that never in three years had she even bumped into the damn thing but this was in fact just another symptom of over protective parent syndrome. Yes… my name is Thatgirl and I am an over protective parent.

How many times have I found myself saying Be Careful, Mind That …. (insert your dangerous object of your choice here), Don’t Run, Look Where You’re Going, Slow Down…. you get the picture. I hear myself repeating any combination of these thirty times a day, whilst glancing surreptitiously over my shoulder to check for the rolling eyes, raised eyebrows and tutting of nearby parents in recognition of the crazed, hyper anxious woman in their midst.

Just last night Small child and I had number seventeen in a long series of chats about dry night times and getting up to go the toilet as opposed to weeing in her pull ups then coming in to ask to go afterwards. Off I went to bed with visions of her trying to pull her jammies back on all alone in a dark bathroom, tripping over and knocking her teeth out on the toilet seat followed by a midnight flit to A & E. Of course, she was fine and this (seventeenth) time she actually managed it on her own and was the proud owner of a pair of bone dry Pampers this morning!

I think every parent feels this way to some degree and I think my special talent for it probably stems from her rocky start into the world that bought with it so much angst and worry. But she’s growing up and so am I. 

I’m learning to let go, little by little which I figure is good practice for the years to come…. because boy do I need the practice!


auntiegwen said...

I used to make people wash their hands before they picked up my baby, I'm sure that endeared me to my mother in law !

lunarossa said...

My son was "cotton wool" baby and then toddler. In spite of all our care he fell down the stairs three times and once with the hoover attachment with him! My daughter was brought up in a more "spartan" way and she never feel down the stairs or put herself in serious danger... Wait until they are teenager and you will stop living! Experience of a very overprotective Italian mum (enphasis on Italian!). Ciao. A.

notSupermum said...

Awww, don't worry it's all normal. I think everyone is over protective with their first child, it's just the way it goes. I'm so glad we don't need stairgates anymore though, I hated those things!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I am incredibly over-protective and would wrap my daughter up in cotton wool and never lt her leave my side if I could. But ocourse that would not help her long term to make her way in the world. It's not easy letting them take steps towards independence.

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

Or you could go the other way like me and let the run wild and free and have everyone look at you like you're a bad mother and don't care.
We were at a party at the weekend and someone came to tell me 'your daughter has climbed on the compost bin and is heading for the shed' and I'm all 'yeah, she does that. She's a bit of a mountain goat' and I could feel eyes BURNING into my back etching 'wicked woman' into my flesh!

Home Office Mum said...

I am just like you. I am permanently saying: slow down, don't run, be careful, look out. I wish i could just chill. But they are boys with an inate ability to find disaster in the safest of places. It's no wonder I am prematurely grey.

By the way, thanks for posting my little moretolifethanlaundry logo on your blog. Much appreciated!

that girl? said...

Auntie G - Good one! And there must be so many things that I do where Small Child is concerned that endear me to my mother in law that I could never list them all here!
Antonella - I can just imagine how I'll be when she's a teenager... because I remember how I was! There's no hope!
NSM - Thank you for reassuring me that I'm not crazy! The stairgate has gone to a good home and the indent is almost gone!
Rosie - You're so right. I will be repeating this when she goes to school this September!
Tara - I envy your laid back-ness! Perhaps you could design me a twelve step program?

A Confused Take That Fan said...

I had the same stair gate issues. Reassuring to hear I am not the only one who has been lying awake due to worrying that daughters would fall down steep stairs in the night. Awful isn't it?!

Yummy Mummy said...

Remember, my little one was the guy who had half his face taken off in last month's step "incident." You can NEVER be to careful. Just feel blessed you have a girl and not a boy!!!


Stair Gates Jody said...

I'm right with you sister. We have 4 stair gates in our house