"Mom, you should put some of your things away. Baby proof this house," stated our oldest son Mark as he lumbered up the stairs followed by his wife, Kim, and fifteen-month-old Hannah.
Visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, he finished unloading the luggage and took it to the guestroom downstairs. After driving all day from Salt Lake to Ft. Collins, his temper showed. "That one finger rule may work with the twins, but it'll never work with Hannah, " he insisted.
When my three granddaughters were born four months apart and the twins moved into our house at eight months, my close friend offered me her secret to entertaining grandchildren with few mishaps. "Teach them the 'one finger rule'." All of her five grandchildren learned it at a young age. The success of the method surprised me.
I picked up my granddaughter and said, "Well, Mark, you just watch." I hugged her and walked all around the great room.
"Hannah, you may touch anything in this room you want. But, you can only use one finger." I demonstrated the technique by touching my forefinger to the African sculpture on the mantle. Hannah followed my example. "Good girl. Now what else would you like to touch?"
She stretched her finger toward another object on the mantle. I allowed her to touch everything in sight, plants, glass objects, TV, VCR, lamps, speakers, candles and artificial flowers. If she started to grab, I gently reminded her to use one finger. She always obeyed. But, Hannah, an only child, possessed a more adventur ous personality. Her father predicted it would prevent her from accepting the"one finger"rule.
During their four-day stay, we aided Hannah in remembering"one finger"rule. She learned quickly. I only put away the things that might prove to be a danger to a child. Otherwise, we watched her closely and nothing appeared to suffer any damage. Besides, "things"can be replaced.
A few fingerprints on glass doors, windows and tables remained after Hannah and her family returned home. I couldn't bring myself to clean them for days. Each one reminded me of some wonderful experience with Hannah.
Months later, my husband and I drove to Salt Lake; I watched Mark and Kim continue to practice the one finger rule. But I refrained from saying, "I told you so." Yet, I smiled inwardly each time they prodded Hannah to touch with "one finger. " Mark, a salesman, always gave a packet of gifts to his potential clients. The night before we returned home, Mark sat on the floor stuffing gifts into their packets. Hannah helped.
Then she picked up one gift, held it in her hand as if it were a fragile bird, and walked toward me. At my knee, her beautiful blue eyes looked into mine. She stretched her prize to me and said, "One finger, Nana!"