Maybe your safety is too safe

Maybe your safety is too safe

Gonna let your 13-year-old wear water wings to the pool party, are you?

Recently I wrote a piece about safe water games for kids to play and someone commented that my ideas—such as diving for toys or swimming to boundaries made with ropes and floating bottles—were not safe. I am thinking that this commenter is either:

A) A helicopter parent

B) A parent who doesn’t want to monitor his or her own kids

C) Someone without kids entirely

These are all perfectly fine games to play at the beach. We play them at my parent’s beach at their lake, which has a nice, level beach with well-defined boundary lines before you get to the deeper end for boats and adult swimming. I think when people think of “safe,” they must either think of their kids not being able to do anything at all, or perhaps not needing to supervise their children as they play. Just as with cars, safety is in the hands of the driver—or, in this case, the parent. If you’re going to booze it up and ignore your child, don’t take him to the water in the first place!

George Carlin often made jokes about the safety levels in America, and while I don’t agree that we need kids to die due to “natural selection” when it can be avoided, I do think he was right on the matter that we just have too many safety laws in this country and NOT enough common sense. In fact, if we had more of the latter taught in public schools, we wouldn’t need the former so much.

It’s natural to worry, and it’s also important; I know people who have lost children to sickness, to car accidents, and I know they run over what they could have done differently in their minds every single day, consumed by the guilt and grief. We cannot agonize over “what ifs,” but those senses of worry that we have are responsible for keeping mankind alive since mammals began. If a sleeping mom doesn’t worry enough to keep one ear open at night to protect her baby from a hungry lion, after all, where would we all be?

But like everything, you can take it too far—and then one day you wake up and your high school graduate doesn’t only not know how to drive, but also how to swim, skate, or even use the signs to walk around the block because he’s been so sheltered his entire life. And that, friends and neighbors, is the most unsafe thing of all—sending an unprepared child out into the world.