Don’t Concuss at Me

One of the most dangerous things you need to worry about as a parent, is your child. Kids have a seemingly natural tendency to “express their love” by unconventional means. Not all the time. You get the hugs and kisses, sometimes without even asking for them, but there are those times when you also get smacked a little too hard in the back or receive a swift kick to the nuggets. I’m not saying you should feel unsafe at the top of the stairs or at a subway platform when you are alone with a toddler, but I think you should be careful. As a rule. An accident happens by accident so you have to be aware that even your most trusted friend can cause you a great deal of pain without meaning to hurt you.

My junior year was my favorite year of high school. I had a very tight-knit group of friends who would get together frequently. From going out to eat to spending hours hanging out at someone’s home, we had fun doing simple, harmless things. I can only hope our parents took note of that, because even our most wild night was tame. I developed friendships over that year that have stood the test of time. We would never to anything to hurt each other. Right?

Anyone who is familiar with band nerd protocol is probably aware that before school starts, you go hang out in the band room. Over the course of high school, your band mates are the people you see the most, so it makes sense that the people you form such a strong bond with are also the first people you want to talk to as the day begins. Likewise the band folks who drove to school would try and park as close as possible to the band room door, knowing that it would be the door they would use at the beginning and end of the day.

So it was not surprising that as I pulled into a parking spot very close to our special door one morning, I looked over to see two of my very best friends parked in the next spot. Their eyes were closed, listening to some music and patiently waiting for the doors to be unlocked so we could pile in the band room and regale each other with tales of things that had occurred in the 12 hours since we had last seen each other. Clearly I must have had something to talk about that couldn’t wait, because that morning I exited my car and found my way to their driver’s side window. I remember wanting to give my friend in the driver’s seat a bit of a scare, and so as they both sat there with their eyes closed, I took position with my face close to the window, waiting for his eyes to open to my ugly mug inches from his place of rest.

I don’t remember how long I was waiting, but I was willing to put the time in for my little joke. His eyes remained closed, as did his passenger, one of our close female friends. Eventually she opened her eyes and greeted me with a big smile. She began talking, but with their windows up I couldn’t hear a thing from inside. I assume she was going on about how I was right outside the window, and how clever and funny that was of me, and how so many girls in school wanted to go out with me, you know, things like that. He remained sitting with his eyes closed and began to grin in an odd way. Evidently at some point she told him to open his door really quickly. My very good friend, who would go on to be the best man in my wedding party, did not question this idea because…well, because boobs. So in complete trust of her advice, he pushed the door open with as much strength as he could gather at that time in the morning.

And then I don’t remember things that clearly.

I know I was in the band room getting a very concerning talk from my band director about something on my head. Whatever that means. I know I had a similar conversation during my first class because I couldn’t “focus.” Then there was some kind of drama involving my mom coming to school to get me and that I was not to be allowed to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. Either way, I got a few very nice phone calls that evening asking if I needed anything. Isn’t that nice?

A similar incident happened over the weekend with Carter.

Carter has a new favorite toy. It’s one of those toys that has an arrow pointing to one of a bunch of different animals, and if you pull the lever on the side you hear something along the lines of, “The cow says, ‘moooooo” You all know the one. A speak and say. Carter decided that when he’s ready to play with it, he would let me know by slamming it down on my lap with a massive smile on his face. The smile is to make sure I’m aware that it’s done in a happy way, not an angry way. Since he has managed to avoid hitting me in the dangle thus far, I have been very tolerant of his method. So all was well and good till this weekend when I was taking a well deserved moment of rest on the couch. William was in a rare mood of actually sitting still to watch some cartoons and Carter was running around playing with whatever struck him in the moment. His sights must have set on his speak and say at some point because I remember seeing the quick flash of a cow and a goat, but it all goes fuzzy afterwards. I know that Melissa said something about a thing on my head, and then she was going on about a doctor’s appointment and something my eyes were doing. I don’t know, it was hard to focus.

It actually reminds me of this time in high school! A really good friend of mine was sitting in his car with this girl. They were listening to the radio in the morning…..

My point is – Be careful out there parents.

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Are We Too Safe?

I feel like I don’t understand many things that seem to have happened over the 14 (yikes) years since I graduated from high school. I know I’ve talked about this before, but times have changed. Every generation has probably said that at some point, but I feel there’s something particularly relevant about that concept these days. The overexposure to people we have gained from social networking sites in addition to the continued wave of hypersensitive parenting styles, have made what I consider to be a larger than average stride between myself and younger crowds.

People have every right in the world to raise their kids in whatever manner they see fit, so long as they are not putting that child directly in harm’s way. The downside of that idea is when a parent makes a decision for their child with every good intention in the world, and it catches on so rapidly that society takes a seemingly harmless idea and forces the world to change around it in a harmful way.

The other day, a friend posted a picture on his facebook page. He, his wife, and their roughly two year old boy had taken some professional family photos. In one of the pictures, he was holding his son upside-down while he and his wife were kissing. Their boy had that kind of kid-smile that is infectious. It was a very sweet picture, but it wasn’t long before comments started flying about holding his child upside-down. How it was very dangerous and to consider what might have happened if he was dropped! Then came the attacks on the two of them as parents, of course from total strangers.

Look, if you as a parent decide that it’s unsafe to toss your child into the air and let them fall into your arms, or lock hands with them and spin around in a circle, or dip your child upside-down, that’s completely your business. Quite frankly, if you hear laughter coming from inside my house during the day I’d caution you to stay out since there’s a pretty high chance something like that is happening right at that moment. A higher level of caution when it comes to your kids does not make you a better parent than someone with a little more flexibility in that area. It also does not guarantee your kids unlimited protection from harm. More so, having an opinion on something doesn’t mean that every needs to bend to your view, and offering your opinion of what is “safe” is not the same as some blind rage comment on how people who differ from your view are wrong.

So what then? Do we need to put bubble wrap over every object in the house? Ban the sale of tables with pointed instead of rounded corners? How long are we going to hear about Steve Irwin’s son feeding crocodiles before we’re able to be okay that he’s someone who is growing up in a zoo with this lifestyle? Interesting to me, as I grew up in Florida just miles away from an entire park where young kids can come face to face with giant alligators for a price. Safety is really a frame of mind. I, for example, feel much more safe in a car than an airplane though statistics tell me planes are the way to go. So how safe are we? Too safe?

Something bugged me during a recent online search for a trampoline. One of William’s favorite movies is the newest “Winnie the Pooh” and while he certainly loves that willy, nilly, silly old bear, Tigger has inspired him to fill moments of his day with bouncing. I’m happy to join in, but that can only last for so long. So I thought, “Hey! He’d bounce for hours on a little trampoline!” A short time into my search I saw this little bundle of joy: http://www.walmart.com/ip/IronKids-Inspiration-250-Fitness-Playground-Metal-Swing-Set/16451443

I love how hard they work to imply that this is not just some fun plaything. It’s a fitness center! Complete with fitness slide! Better still is the level to which they have gone to convince people that it’s safe. You’re basically leaving your child to play with a cloud, while on a cloud. Everything is beautifully soft, rounded, contoured, and padded. There are nets to protect you from swinging too far off course. Best of all, the trampoline has a safety bar! Nothing says, “Have fun kiddo!” like a bar on a trampoline designed to restrict your movement and bounce height. Isn’t that why trampolines like this were invented? No springs to pinch skin, seemingly impossible to hit any part of the frame, and better shock absorption than most off-road vehicles. Still fun? Of course, but look at the cost of all that peace-of-mind.

We spend so much time worrying about our kids. Parents try to teach these little life lessons, but learning to pick yourself up is something often overlooked. For a time, William realized that the threat that he might be hurt would get attention. This led to fake injuries with fake emotional responses, something we then had to learn to ignore. When a child is learning to walk, falling is part of that process. Eventually the training wheels need to come off the bike, and falling is part of that process, too. What is it Dory says in Finding Nemo? “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

So perhaps there’s a sound logic to a company providing over-the-top safety precautions when there are parents out there who will simply ignore the most basic rules. Even if they are printed out for them, three times. Clearly there needs to be some middle ground established on this matter, and you just can’t account for people who will be brazenly careless with their children. We used a Bumbo for a while, it went on the floor and was surrounded by carpet and blankets to fall on. We have knives in the kitchen, we keep them out of their reach.

…and when I buy some little trampoline for William, I won’t be telling him to keep the bounces under two inches. Aerosmith taught me to live on the edge.

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