DEAR ABBY: I'll bet you get plenty of letters from grannies responding to "Bent Out of Shape in Bend, Ore." Here is MY response. You may use it if you choose:
To "Bent Out of Shape": I laughed myself silly when I read how exhausted you were after visiting Granny with your 18-month-old son. Granny doesn't have to read a "current baby/toddler book" to get the "new information" on baby-proofing a house. Granny raised YOU without all the modern gadgets. She used a tool you may not have heard of -- a firm and gentle "NO."
She also used a useful device called a playpen to get an hour or so of rest a day from following a toddler around. I'm sorry to inform you that you'll be exhausted for the next 18 years. The entire world is a hazardous place, and it is YOUR job to protect your own child.
When my grandchildren come to visit, I provide everything: food, cribs, toys, baby gates, entertainment, bibs, diapers, etc., and I watch them as closely as I can. I give the parents a break by baby sitting a night or so during their stay. I also tuck a little extra cash in their pockets to help out when I can.
If you want Granny's house baby-proofed for your visit, I suggest YOU bring all the gadgets and baby-proof the house yourself. Please remember to put all the gadgets, litter boxes, detergents, chemicals, coins, photos, candles and other things back where they belong before you leave.
I laughed myself silly because if you think YOU are exhausted when you leave Granny's house, think how exhausted Granny is. We Grannies did our jobs 20 years ago, and trust me, babies were the same then as they are now. It's just YOUR turn to do the work. We Grannies have a golf game. -- LAUGHING GRANNY
DEAR LAUGHING GRANNY: I have taken some lumps for my answer to that letter. And while I agree that it is the parent's job to watch the toddler, the writer of that letter had a point. Anyone who is going to regularly have small children in the house would be well advised to make sure that chemicals, medications and breakables are placed out of reach. You would never forgive yourself if your and your daughter's attention were diverted for a few minutes and the child was seriously hurt, or worse. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Bent Out of Shape" may be dealing with a difference in parenting styles. My mother also complained about my brother's request that she baby-proof the house before the visit of her first grandchild.
Mother believed that correcting a toddler when it reached for a low-lying table was the way to introduce limits and teach respect for other people's things. While she accepted the need to remove dangerous items, she wanted to keep her "nice" things in place. She felt it was the parents' responsibility to watch the child and was annoyed when their attention wandered and her grandchild got into something.
Happily it didn't take long for her to have a change of heart. Mom got tired of worrying about her prized breakables and eventually moved the most precious out of reach. She also got tired of trying to converse with adults who were constantly on the alert.
Child-proofing my house made my job easier and far more pleasant. As my children grew, I gradually returned the breakables to their places, teaching them not to touch. By the time my youngest was 3, everything was back in place and we hadn't lost a thing.
"Bent" may want to have a talk with her mother about this. -- ALL INTACT IN ATLANTA