Dear Annie: I have a toddler grandson (18 months old), and his mother leaves him alone in the bathtub. The other day, when I walked into their home, he was by himself in the tub while she was feeding his newborn sister in another room.
I am so worried that something may happen. We all know how fast a tragedy can occur. Please don’t tell me to say something to her or to my son. I have, and it hasn’t worked. My son’s response the other day was, “I’ve already warned her. I’ve told her that she is going to have to deal with the consequences.”
Can you please publish statistics along with a warning to parents about NEVER leaving their children unattended in a bathtub or any water for any reason? — Going Gray (Early) Grandmother
Dear Going Gray: So, Mom has to deal with the consequences, but not Dad? Your son also is going to be plenty sorry if he doesn’t insist that his son be watched more closely. Shame on him for his cavalier attitude, and your daughter-in-law needs to have her head examined if she thinks her son is immune from harm.
Here are your stats, Grandma: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc.gov) warns that young children can drown in as little as two inches of water. Accidental drowning is the third leading cause of death for children under 5 years of age. About 100 children under age 5 drown each year in bathtubs. Some of these bathtub drownings occurred when children were in bath seats or rings.
The CPSC recommends that caregivers ALWAYS provide supervision when children are around bathtubs or any type of containers with liquids. NEVER leave young children alone or with young siblings in a bathtub, even if you are using a bath seat or ring. Children can drown in just a few minutes.
Dear Annie: I read with amusement and frustration the numerous letters on handicapped bathroom stalls.
I am a special education teacher in college, and we needed to do something to raise the awareness of issues that people with handicaps deal with. I borrowed a family friend’s wheelchair and spent an afternoon exploring. Luckily for me, a classmate and I embarked on this adventure together, because I could not budge the chair out of the backseat. I needed help. I will never forget the attempt to go into a nonaccessible restroom. It was impossible! However, I feel that when there is a line waiting for the restroom and the handicapped stall is available, people should not wait in misery. It is silly.
That said, what able-bodied people need to realize is that if they don’t want to touch the seat, and they leave a mess, the toilet becomes unusable for a disabled person who cannot balance over the seat. All people must use common courtesy. Please clean up after yourself. — We All Need a Little Tolerance in Louisville, Ky.
Dear Louisville: We appreciate your weighing in. Here’s one more:
Dear Annie: In your column that was published in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, you used the term “handicapped stall.” I just want to let you know that this is an outdated term, and for some, it has negative implications. The more appropriate term is “wheelchair accessible” or just simply “accessible.” One of the letter-writers said she is “wheelchair-bound.” People who use wheelchairs are not bound to them. They are people who “use wheelchairs.” All assistive devices — wheelchairs, scooters, canes, walkers, handrails, etc. — are a source of freedom and independence, and should not be viewed as restrictive, because they are not.
For more information on appropriate terms, you can check out “People First Language” at disabilityisnatural.com. — Jenneil
Dear Jenneil: Thank you. For those who think this is nothing more than semantics, we assure you that language is a powerful thing when it comes to attitudes. We promise to be more aware in the future.
“Annie’s Mailbox” is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.