A Wise Person's List of Safeties
Benches Provided for Safety's Sake
Assume that you and I and our children have not had an accident due to our ignorance of what can happen. Assume you and I heard the story from someone else and got wise.
Tripping in the Night. For example, there was the woman who pushed a blanket onto the floor at the bottom of her bed. When she got up to pee in the night, she caught her left big toe in the bedspread and, moving fast, wrenched it backwards so forcefully that to this day she has a pain in her big toe joint that threatens to stop her from hiking. Now she gives the end of her bed a wide berth on those night hikes to the bathroom, or folds the blanket, or kicks it under the bed before she turns out the light.
Tripping in the Dark. Then there was the woman—we honestly hope it wasn’t the same one—who decided she could navigate the stairs without turning on the light. She missed the bottom stair, thought she was stepping on the floor, and stepped on air. Her right heel caught on the stair. The right foot hit the floor toe first and as she fell the ankle bent like closing a jack knife! Well, that one only hurt for a day. But the ankle was out of whack and the right foot dragged.
Tripping in Daylight. One day the right toe caught on the sidewalk. (This is the same woman. Heck, it’s the same story, only worse.) The toe that missed the bottom stair caught on a perfectly dry sidewalk. She went down with a thud on her left knee, which snapped into reverse. The tissues and ligaments tore, the tissues turned to mush, the knee bone cracked. Took a while to heal that one. She says it still aches. Sometimes the left foot feels numb. After all, those foot nerves have to travel through the knee.
Slipping on Ice. This woman—I’m beginning to think it’s all the same one, unless there are two women on earth this dumb—this woman ran across a street and stepped onto the handicap ramp on the sidewalk just as if it were level, but of course it was slopped. And icy that day. Down she went, wrenching her ribs and knocking the breath out of her. Well, after a few odd moments in collapse, the breath came back. In a few weeks the ribs healed. She watches her footing better now. Hey, she makes mistakes, but never the same mistake twice.
Walking the Dog. A woman who loved her old Birkenstocks refused to throw them out even when the toe of the right shoe began to separate from the sole. There she was, late getting home and practically running to take the dog to the potty corner at her apartment complex—well, the poor dog was crossing her legs and whining for relief—when the broken shoe caught on the sidewalk and the woman went airborne. She came down on both hands, saving her face from major damage, though her cheek struck the sidewalk with a deafening whack. She got right up. The dog was waiting. A couple years later both her shoulders froze into such restricted motion she had to seek physical therapy. She threw the shoes out the day of the fall.
Ringing in the Ears. Although she hated loud electric music, this woman did what any mother would do when her own son was playing in a band. She went to a concert and let the volume assault her ears. She put cotton in her ears and put on a wool hat. Still, a day later she developed tinnitus, also called ringing in the ears. She lost silence. She felt, she said, quite frantic at first. There is no cure for ringing in the ears. Whew! Aren’t you glad you and I know better than to make that mistake? We could hear the concert perfectly from outside, for heaven’s sake.
Childhood Illness. This woman, when she was a little girl, learned that getting sick was about the only way to get the attention of a mother busy with younger babies. Unless we want to think that such folly is wide-spread, we really have to believe she’s the same person who grew up to be so careless. So here’s this girl, hungry for attention and slumping into illness, as if to say, “Mom, I can’t run myself without the energy of your regard.” She gets sick and she gets well and she gets sick. Finally she gets good and sick with a bacterial infection requiring a couple weeks of penicillin. The antibiotics saved her but she had a belly full of yeast troubles, which were understood only years later when the role of probiotics in digestion was discovered. We asked her, “If you had it to do again, would you refrain from getting sick in childhood?” She said, “I’d sure refrain from wishing to be sick!” Whew! You and I are now much the wiser. The next time we are children, we will certainly not wish to be sick.
This wise person’s list of safeties could seem like a sad story, full of remorse and aches. But, no. Not at all. She includes the following in her list of safeties.
Plastic Bags. She never let her little kids play with plastic bags. She had heard that babies can suffocate in a plastic bag and she wasn’t having a story like that for her family.
Cords Hanging from Blinds. She kept those hazards well up out of reach.
Knives. She kept knives in a drawer secured from little hands.
Toddler Snacks. She cut the grapes in half and put a snacking toddler sit in his high chair where he can keep his mind on his snack and she can keep an eye on his eating.
Car Maintenance. She keeps her car in good running form, brakes and all parts working well.
Water and Electricity. She dries her hands before touching electric light switches.
There are many such safety measures she takes in the course of a day, things that people pass along because of a tragic story, a toddler who walked into a lake, an adult who drank and drove. You can probably think of dozens of cautions to watch out for this and that. Please add some to this list of safeties.
We asked what message the too soon old, too late wise woman would like to leave for others. She said, “I’m glad I got off with one cracked knee bone, a few aches and pains, and noisy ears. It could have been worse. Life is hazardous to your health.”
In the spirit of not moving a body faster than a mind can observe, I’ve provided some benches in this hub.