I'm on the treadmill last night, walking three miles per hour. Like a magnet, the treadmill draws the children downstairs from all corners of the house. They sit as close as I'll let them come. Sitting on the basement steps, they are mute, wide-eyed as my feet move on the spinning belt. They know they'll be sent upstairs if they make the slightest advance toward the treadmill, which dangers I've articulated graphically, in light of the experience of an acquaintence whose three-year-old stuck his hand under one a few years ago.
I've given similar frightening explanations regarding trampoline safety, to discourage Una from pouncing on Evvy, to drive home the reasoning behind the required time-out for chasing Evvy almost-off the ten-foot-wide tramp.
I say in my most shocked and somber voice, "If Ev were to fall off here, do you know what would happen??? Do you know why you're in time-out?" Invariably, she doesn't know. Saturday I told her about brain damage, how her sister might lose her ability to speak, see, or think if she were to suffer a fall from the tramp. "Imagine what it would be like if you couldn't see where you were going. What if you couldn't find your puppy?"
This registers briefly. "Find my puppy?" And then: "Why couldn't I find my puppy?"
Again: "If you were BLIND..."
The children don't sit still much for anything these days. After a record-breaking ten minutes of watching the treadmill in a state of relative paralysis, the 1-year old shimmies down to a lower step, a step closer to the treadmill.
With admirable reflex and instinct, the 4 year shoots her arm across the baby's chest. "Evvy. Come back. Your skin will peel off."
With equal reflex, Evvy hops back to her original position and ingests the seriousness of her sister's tone. "Oh. Okay, Una."