An article appeared recently in the New York Times with the headline “With Kids and Coffee Tables, It’s Trip, Fall, Ouch.” The article goes to great lengths to warn parents of the dangers of having a coffee table in the home.
OK, yes. When we were little, my younger brother went to the emergency room because of an altercation with a coffee table. And a survey of my fellow GeekMoms reveals two of them have coffee-table related scars. Another has one from a chair. Another recalls crashing into the media console. I myself had a run-in with a bit of shrubbery. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Last year, 143,070 children age 5 and younger visited emergency rooms after table accidents, according to estimates from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Coffee tables, in particular, turn up in more than a quarter of the accident reports, in the commission’s sample count.
Perhaps your thought when reading this is “That’s a lot of kids! I’m throwing away my coffee table right now!”
But then, as you’re hauling your living room menace to the curb, you start thinking more about those numbers. If you take the quarter of those accidents that were coffee-table-related and compare that with the approximately 20 million kids in this country under the age of five, that’s a 0.18% chance that your unfortunate trip to the emergency room is related to the coffee table.
A child’s facial scar can seem like a mark of Cain, a permanent reminder of mommy or daddy momentarily failing.
That picture up there? That’s my daughter, and here’s how that knot happened. She was sitting happily on a little concrete stoop at the playground with her friend. Her dad and I, along with her friend’s parents, were all standing one foot away from the kids. All of the sudden, for no apparent reason, she pitched forward and BAM! Her face met the pavement. If ever there was a case of proper supervision, this was it. And yet, the accident still happened.
Ultimately, the coffee table presents parents with a familiar dilemma: We cannot shield our children from every possible danger. But is that any reason not to try?
Why stop at the coffee table, you mean?
Sure, let’s kick out the chairs, entertainment centers, nightstands, step stools, cabinets, stairs, and sidewalks. Oh, and don’t forget shrubbery.
Amy Kraft is a kids' media producer, writer, and game designer living in New York City. She also writes the kids' media blog Media Macaroni.