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Safety and Special Needs, A Series

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Back when Connor was not yet one-year-old, and still crawling, we lived in a house with a fireplace in the living room.  At some point each day, he busied himself with crawling to the fireplace, in an attempt to get into that big hole and play around.

There were several well-read parenting books on my shelf, so I knew that my job was to move him and distract him with his toys.  This didn’t seem to be working, but I dug in my heels and decided I would stick with this plan.  Connor, of course, had not read the parenting books, and as soon as I plopped him down with his toys, he abruptly turned and crawled right back to the fireplace.  I stuck with it, mentally counting each time I moved him away, and when I got to 100, I knew something wasn’t right.  I hadn’t been around that many babies, but I knew that it usually wasn’t that hard to interest them in an alternate object.

Since my main goal was his safety, I got online to look for gates.  Most seemed to be in the $100 range, which was just not in the budget, so we had to be creative.

I found a large cardboard box in the garage, and cut out one side in the shape of the fireplace.  Then I duct-taped the flat cardboard to the front of the fireplace.  Hubs laughed at me, asking “do you really think that’s going to stop him?”

But it did.  As soon as the opening of the fireplace was covered up, it was like it no longer existed.  Connor crawled that way once, looked at it, and turned around and went back to his toys.  He never bothered with the fireplace again, as though it had disappeared.

Now I realize that compared to some, we don’t have it so tough.  There are many parents that have to go to extreme measures to ensure their kids’ safety, often in creative and innovative ways. And there are too many horrible stories out there about kids that have wandered and gone missing.

When I was looking for someone to guest post for me, I had several kind offers.  They wanted to know what topic I’d like, and my mind kept coming back to safety.  And instead of just having a single guest post, I thought this might be a great topic to run as a series.

Every Monday I’ll host a guest post from someone with their story of safety issues for their kids, and what has worked for them.  There are so many great ideas out there, and I know this will be helpful to others.

There aren’t too many rules, just a few:

1.  Contact me, via email ( or Facebook, letting me know you’d like to submit a post on safety.  I’ll run them on consecutive Mondays, in the order they’re received.

2.  Submit your finished post, along with any pics or links to be included, to me at least 48 hours ahead of time.

3.  I will not edit your post.  If I spot a spelling error, I may correct it, but that’s it.  The usual disclaimer applies:  if there is any material that is offensive, abusive, or defamatory, I reserve the right to withhold posting the piece.

4.  As is customary, post a link on your blog on your Monday, linking back to The Connor Chronicles.

I made this handy-dandy picture, meme-y thing that you can use if you want.

(When I added text it blurs just a tiny bit when I save it.  Why?  Why does it do this?  This is the crap that makes me crazy in life, this stuff right here.  If you know how to do this so the text doesn’t blur, tell me and I’ll send you the pic.  Otherwise, this one isn’t too bad.)


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

16 responses »

  1. I have to know- was it a fireplace you had used? so like there was ash all over him? Please tell me it was a decorative fireplace… I got all distracted by that.

    Anyway, I love this idea and how you creatively removed the attraction! I’m excited to see where this goes!

    • Haha, no, we never used the fireplace, although it had been used before. So it was rather dusty, but not filled with ashes. Luckily he never made it IN the fireplace, I always caught him first.

      I hope you have something to send for the series!

  2. I love this….I get the topic of my kid running into rear view mirrors (and getting black eyes) in parking lots for 3 years running because he just never saw them, let alone figured out he was walking too close to them….wait, I think I just used up all my words on that. Damn.

    I love this idea!!!

  3. I had a runaway a few years ago and I spent hours of teaching him responding to his name and turning back when I called….three years later the runaway business was finally resolved around four years old but wow it was hard and just thinking about that time makes me want to cry. I could have lost him for good countless times he was quicker than anything ..he just bolted the moment his legs touched the ground.

    • I know how frightening that is, and the constant worry it causes. I love your writing, and I really hope you’ll write something about how you worked with him to teach him to respond. I think it would be a great contribution.

  4. you clever girl, you. I’m pretty lucky as far as safety is concerned I think…
    I know there was this lady one time at an kids-of-parents-with-Autism support group night, and she was EXHAUSTED because her son never ever ever ever stopped. I think one time she was at the airport with him, and the next moment the kid was going up the escalator…on the outside of it.

  5. I hope someone writes about seatbelts, because they are the bane of my existence. Or rather, trying to keep them on my child is.

  6. Your fireplace story reminds me of our family room which was once carpeted, had a TV, coffee table, lamps, etc. Now? A padded, covered raised hearth, the fireplace is sealed shut with plywood and the mantle has been dismantled. *sigh*

  7. I too had to hange things a bit when I became a parent. I use to have gym equipment in my living room, so we moved it out. Then when my son was born, I didn’t want to spend as much time exercising any way.

    And, my son is relentless too. He remembers everything and if we had a fire place, he’d be all over it.

  8. That is interesting about covering up the fireplace. Out of sight, out of mind. What I want to know is why that doesn’t work for doughnuts.

  9. I posted it at TPGA:

    Sometimes people comment there rather than coming over to the original post.

  10. Pingback: Safety and Special Needs Series, Post #2 « Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles

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