I was planning a really, really ugly bad mansard post today. It didn't happen. This antique pier mirror messed everything up. My husband bought it for me from Sambeau's in the Central West End for our one year anniversary in 1999. We brought it from our first house in Lafayette Square to this house and bolted it to the wall in 2002. I never thought another thing about it.
Until this morning when it came crashing down on top of our 3 1/2 year old Mimi. And there was blood, glass, shattered wood and teeth everywhere. She had a few scrapes and three baby teeth got knocked out by the force of her face hitting the floor (fortunately an area rug softened the blow). Despite the injury and damage, I felt incredibly lucky. That thing could have killed her. It's heavy wood and the glass is about 1/4 inch thick.
Our good friend is a dentist and will check her out tomorrow. Fingers and eyes crossed everything is ok.
So, to all you moms raising kids in old houses, I have advice for you. The dangers of keeping little ones safe in a house 100+ years old are different than in a newer house. For sure newer houses have problems too. But older houses have some inherent risks to kids.
- Our staircases are much, much steeper. There are 21 stairs from my first floor to the second floor. They are not carpeted. The stairs from my 2nd to 3rd floor are incredibly narrow and steep. You haven't had the wits scared out of you until you hear a toddler fall down 16 stairs.
- The glass in some of our windows and mirrors is old- usually super thick and leaded glass. It usually won't break, but when it does get out of the way because it created giant jagged pieces of mirror daggers.
- Lead paint and asbestos. Even if your house has been sanded down to wood, repainted this decade and abated, it won't stop some moron from throwing contaminated drywall and insulation out the second story window of your neighbors house creating a layer of poison dust all over your yard.
- The doors are giant and solid wood. Little fingers get pinched quite easily and accompanied by a horrifying crunch.
- Hardwood is lovely but slippery.
- The ceilings are so very, very tall. My 6'5" husband has to stand on top of a ladder to access the lightbulbs. One time he fell and almost landed on then-baby Gus snoozing in his pumpkin seat.
- Because the ceilings are high and the rooms can be large- furniture is super-sized. Bookcases, mirrors, dressers, etc. Looks great but more horrible if it falls on your kid.
I will argue that an older home is 100% better for raising kids than a newer home. That said, let's all do a safety check and make sure the accidents happen less frequently.