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by Abigail Van Buren

To Grandma's House We Go if First It's Baby Proofed

DEAR ABBY: I am a first-time mother of a beautiful 18-month-old son. My mother is crazy about being a grandma and begs me to come for extended visits so she can get to know her grandson. I just returned from a week's visit -- and I am exhausted. Why? Because Mother refuses to "baby-proof" her house for our visits, so I spend all my time watching my son to ensure that he doesn't break something valuable, or get into the bleach under the kitchen sink.

Every baby book you buy stresses the importance of baby-proofing during the toddler years, so here are a few suggestions I have for grandparents who want their grandchildren to have a safe visit:

1. Move all cleaning supplies, cosmetics and room deodorizers UP to a high shelf or cupboard.

2. Invest in outlet covers and drawer and cupboard locks. They are inexpensive and easy to remove after visits.

3. Put away all hard candies, coins, glass-framed photos, candles, and anything of sentimental value before your grandchild arrives.

4. Plants, animal litter boxes, pet food, detergents and caustic chemicals should be out of reach and out of sight.

5. Sharp-edged furniture, such as coffee tables or end tables, should have easily installed corner protectors applied, or should be turned on their sides during visits.

One of my girlfriends told me that when she's coming for a visit, her mother buys diapers, baby wipes and appropriate baby food. She also has bibs, baby cups and spoons on hand. She even buys age-appropriate toys to keep at her house so her granddaughter has special toys to look forward to playing with during the visit.

In most cases, it's been about 20 years since these grandparents have been around babies. I think if they would read a current baby/toddler book, they would be surprised to learn about the new information available. -- BENT OUT OF SHAPE IN BEND, ORE.

DEAR BENT IN BEND: Your suggestions for grandparents seem sensible to me, and worth sharing with any new grandparent who might be out of touch. Since your mother seems to fall into that category, send her a book on baby/toddler child care as a gift. It could save her, you and your son a lot of stress or even an unfortunate accident.

DEAR ABBY: While on a whitewater rafting trip, I was rescued from drowning by a man in a kayak, and I can't stop thinking about him. I am happily married, but am worried that I have "fallen in love" with the man who saved my life.

The man not only pulled me out of the water, he held my hand and kept eye contact for 15 minutes while I was in shock. He took care of me until I felt safe again.

I sent him a four-page thank-you letter. Now I watch the mailbox, waiting for a reply. What can I do to close this matter? Have I fallen in love with "my hero"? -- GRATEFUL SURVIVOR

DEAR GRATEFUL: You are confusing gratitude with love, and ordinarily people do not respond to letters of thanks.

Think of the experience this way: The man saved your life so you and your husband can enjoy many more years of happily married life together.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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