Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Neighbourhood walkabout

Many moons have waxed and waned since the last time I was in charge of a toddler. The world is a different place to the caretaker of a small, fragile, all-too-curious human being. There’s no doubt we, as a species, have our mental capacity to understand danger far outstripped by our physical ability to get INTO danger. How many two year olds do you know that look both ways before crossing the street? How many two year olds are aware drinking toilet water is a bad call?

A parent can control his/her own home. Wrap marble coffee tables in bubble wrap (hmm… might have been smarter to just put it away. Oh well, what’s done is done.). Put protective covers over all electrical outlets. Steam clean your carpet every week. Lay crash mats down over your tile floor. Put corks on the ends of all your forks. Lock your cabinets. Put up warning signs like “Keep the basement door closed if the baby is on the loose” (this one actually exists in my home - ask anyone who’s been there).

But you can’t do much about the big wide world and all the complete asshats who slouch their way through it. In a twenty minute walk this morning with my wee one (toddler, just to be clear), I came across these Crimes Against Childhood:

~An unleashed dog. Yes, he was trotting obediently beside his owner (at least, I assume the wizened old bugger was his owner), but with no ready means of control, anything could have happened. Dogs can be threatening enough when you’re an adult but when you’re eye-level with the canine, things can go really wrong, really fast. One bite, my daughter loses her face, and I end up in jail for strangling a dog and his old-man owner to death. Not a good day.

~Public sandbox hiding some cat-poop treasures, like tardy Easter eggs. Feral cats are hard to stop, but the only reason we have feral cats is because cat owners are being irresponsible. Not all of them, of course, but I’ve heard too many say things like “Oh, I don’t want to keep Tubbles inside - he likes to wander. Cats are independent, you know.” You can be sure Tubbles and his ilk were never given the Bob Barker Special, meaning they can impregnate (or be impregnated) freely. You ever notice those “independent cats” rarely crap on their owners lawns? (Proving them to be cleverer than their owners, who are willing to risk the lives and freedom of their beloved Tubbles to maintain a thousands-year old link to housecats-as-wild-predators.)

~Broken beer bottle. Nothing is as immediately fascinating to the toddler as broken glass. Yes, it’s my job to make sure they don’t go gargling with it, but glass spreads and its impossible to spot fragments in grass, meaning a chance spill (and they fall plenty, those toddlers) can result in stitches and a tetanus booster. And you wonder why public drunkenness is illegal.

~Dog droppings on the sidewalk. They weren’t steaming, so they probably didn’t belong to the aforementioned leashless wonder, which just means there’s yet another rude, selfish dog owner roaming around. If you don’t want to pick up dog shit (and who could blame you?) don’t get a dog. Or did you not realize that food they so greedily gulp turns into feces (or puke, or both - yeah, I’m in a real rush to get one of those furry mongrels)?

~And the blue ribbon winner? A melted swing seat. Someone has clearly decided applying a heat source to a child’s swing was the height of hilarity. This guy (or group) beats all the others in the Asshat Contest. Why? Because every other Crime listed here is one of laziness: don’t want to take care of my pet, don’t want to find a garbage can, etc. Not so for our Mystery Melter. He went out of his way to do this little slice of stupidity. In fact, a fair amount of effort was involved, as the average cigarette lighter would NEVER be enough to do the kind of damage I saw. A blowtorch was needed. So either this guy just happened to be whipping up some crème brùlée or he deliberately dragged a torch out to a playground, clearly the act of a nob.

At least my toddler had a good time. She is blissfully unaware of the dangers of the world as viewed by Adult Vision.

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