The Meanest Mom writes: Forget cars and swimming pools--the biggest threat to your child's safety this summer is himself. At least that is what many would have you believe.
Last week, I took my kids on a bike ride around our neighborhood. A friendly wave to one woman sitting on her porch was returned with a scowl and "tsk, tsk, tsk" finger shake. "Where's your son's helmet?" the woman barked.
Bike helmets--like all of the safety gear that we pile on our children--aim to prevent injuries, but at what cost? Parents have become so fixated on the small possibility that their kids might get seriously hurt playing outdoors that they forget that the odds are greatly in their favor that they won't. By insisting that our kids suit up in full body armor (knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guards, etc.) when they ride their bikes, rollerblade, and skateboard, we are depriving them of the pleasures of unmediated play. More than that, we are sending them the message that the world is a scary place and that doing normal "kid stuff" is to risk serious bodily harm.
Bike helmets were not mandated by law in most states when we were growing up in the '80s and '90s. Yet miraculously, against all odds, we survived to adulthood. Sure, my son could crack his head open if he fell off his bike, but as I learned a few days ago, he could just as easily do so by tripping on the leg of a coffee table.
Lest you think I am an uncaring parent, I want to assure you that I have taken measures to prevent similar injuries from occurring in the future. From now on, all three of my children are going to wear helmets inside the house, and, to guard against nighttime accidents, even to bed.