Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2003 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Safety first, even when danger has passed | We have two kids in college and one in high school, yet I just dragged a chair over to a kitchen cabinet so I could retrieve felt-tipped markers from a top shelf. What's wrong with this picture?

The red, green, black and blue Sharpies are bundled together with a rubber band and hidden behind a meat thermometer and a pedestal cake plate. I began keeping the markers up high when the kids were little and never got around to moving them down low. I guess it's time. It's been ages since any of them even wrote on their hands, let alone the walls. Then again, the oldest did splatter-paint a pair of his shoes in the name of art recently.

The markers stay.

My husband complains that to find a box of matches he has to tunnel his way to the far back of a pantry shelf behind boxes of Jell-O, cereal, pasta and snack crackers. Even when he worms his way to the back of the cabinet, the matches are sealed in a round tin that is difficult to open.

"A man shouldn't have to work this hard to get a simple match," he says. "I keep them there for safety purposes," I snap. "Little boys are fascinated with flames."

He looks me and says, "The little boy is 22. He goes camping on a regular basis and can start a bonfire with chips of flint and dryer lint."

"Maybe," I answer. "But I couldn't sleep at night knowing the matches were within reach of little hands. The matches stay."

"I suppose you're going to keep winding up the cords on the mini-blinds every morning, too," he says.

"You betcha. I know nobody's going to tie anybody else up in them, but when they're all home and get to roughhousing, someone could catch a foot in there and it could get ugly."

"You don't think the ugly part would be when the mini-blinds ripped off the wall?"

The markers, matches and cords stay; however, I announce that I am open to negotiating the outlet covers and latches on the cupboard doors under the kitchen sink. "Those can go," I say. "At least on a trial basis, we'll try removing them for a couple of weeks. If anyone even looks like he or she might be thinking about sticking a car key into an outlet, the covers go back on."

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"I think we're safe," he says.

"Good, because safety is what I'm about," I say. "And hey, turn the handle on the pan to the back of the stove would you? And where do you think you're going with that empty plastic bag?"

"Listen," he says, opening a concealed compartment in the silverware drawer where I hide serrated steak knives, "I know these things can be hard for you, but I think it's time we take the foam padding off the corners of the coffee table. If any of them rammed into the coffee table now, all they'd hurt are their shins."

"So the children's shins don't mean anything to you?" I say.

"Fine, but I'm still tucking the tablecloth corners under the table. I'm not comfortable taking chances. And don't start with me about putting poinsettias on top of the bookshelf every year."

"The danger of anyone chewing on the poisonous leaves and berries is absolutely nil," he says. "Their taste buds have matured considerably. You're just having a hard time letting go."

"Not at all I say," as we sit down to dinner. " I'm making wonderful progress.

"Can I cut your meat for you?"

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman