Attractive Nuisance

In insurance there are certain things they call an attractive nuisance. These are objects, that are dangerous, but that by their very nature will attract people, especially kids, to them. The ones that I know about are swimming pools, trampolines, and horses. I’m sure that there are others.

I think that some things in parenting are like that. They’re attractive nuisances. They’re, by their nature, going to cause problems. Yet, we still want them to be a part of our life.

This week we’ve encountered a few of these:

The snails outside the front door. No matter how late we’re running, we’re going to have to slow down and look at them and if they’ve moved, we’re going to have to crawl under the bushes to find them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that she loves nature. I love that she’s gentle with the snails and fascinated by them. Truth be told, so am I. Can you keep snails as pets, I wonder? Still, they slow us down. Attractive Nuisance.

Video games on the computer. PBSKids has a great selection of age appropriate, learning games, and I’d rather that she play on the computer than watch TV. In the last week she’s mastered the concepts of more vs. less, estimating, and simple adding and subtracting. I really like games. I’d also rather she didn’t play computer games for twelve hours a day. Attractive Nuisance.

The kitchen at my house is an attractive nuisance. If I’m in there cooking, then Fiona wants to help. Even if I’m cooking over four hot gas burners with a sharp knife. She drags a chair over and tries. Or, more accurately, we’ve had a couple glorious fights over the dining chairs this week. Attractive Nuisance.

I’m sure that as she grows these will change and the truth is they change from day-to-day, but I really think it’s a useful term to keep in mind. After all, like with insurance, attractive nuisances are more costly, you have to do special things to control them, and having them is around is an added risk, in the case of parenting mostly a risk to your sanity.



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