Thursday, May 24, 2012

that's not safe

Monday we all went together to take two of the children to their well baby appointments. In general we have tiny children and so were astonished to discover that the baby is in the 30th percentile for height. "What a giant" said the doctor sardonically. We all laughed together.

Never mind that she, the baby, had thrown up a mere half an hour earlier.
Stupidly, we thought we'd make a day of it.
Pick up the house, get in the car, go to Wegmans for a serious stocking up, buy something for lunch, go to a park and then end up at the doctor to round out the whole day.

So of course it was raining as we wended our remarkable way out of Wegmans. I say remarkable because I can tell so many people are remarking on us in their own minds. I generally plaster a smile to myself as one adjusts a mast or something, grab a couple of hands of children and talk cheerfully to Matt or Elphine as we pass in front of the checkouts, not making eye contact but noting the startled mothers with one or two children in their carts, the bemused boomers who gently lift their eyebrows to the heavens, the gentle grandmothers who usually smile and sometimes say something helpful like "you sure do have your hands full."

The rain rained long enough for us to decide to eat our lunch in the car. Matt has a rule about this. A rule that says "No Eating In the Car Ever."
"You value the cleanness of the car over the health, well being and happiness of your children" I always say, "I'll clean the car, I promise."
"No you won't. You always say that and then you never do."
"That's true" I ripost (its the same conversation every time) "but this time I will for sure clean the car."
So we ate in the car and only the baby shredded her delicious ham salad sandwich all over the seat. One out of six is very reasonable. And we drove around looking for a park. Up a hill, round a bend, up another hill, back the opposite way, round another bend and then
"What was that?" said Matt cautiously.
"The baby threw up."
Turns out ham salad and cookies don't sit well with her on a windy car ride. And I'm not the kind of mom to drag around a lot of extra clothes and diapers and stuff. I don't carry anything for children except a tiny book about a bunny and horse and a chicken who get left out of a parade and so make their own parade, a better parade. And I have a pen and a piece of paper. I don't carry bottles or sippy cups or snacks or anything. Certainly no extra clothes.
"We'll just take her to the doctor naked, "said Matt.
"Oh, that'll be good," I say, "perfect."
But the park has a lou, so we clean her up a little and remove all the offending garments and then go play at the playground.
Except that the playground is awful. Awful.

Only Marigold has a good time because she's too little to know better. There are swings and a sort of climbing thing that if you fall off the top of it, you can't possibly get hurt. And there's a thing to throw a ball through (except there's no ball), and a very very safe bouncy thing that you can sit in and sort of jiggle around, and a stupid little house. And then, as I watch my children wandering around looking at the lame lame set up, I realize, there probably are no fun play grounds left in America.

You can't have a high slide because you can try to jump off or go up the wrong way. You can't have a see-saw because its so easy to fall off at the top, or hurt the other kid by coming down yourself very sharply. You can't have a merry go round because once you get it going really fast and get ready to jump out, you can fall and scrape yourself. You can't have monkey bars because you'll definitely fall when you're in the forth grade and break your arm. And even though you and your mother didn't dream of suing, some other mother did and so there are no fun play grounds left, at least in Binghamton, at least the ones I've seen.

And so on the one hand we're kind of shocked by the whole idea of children at all, and on the other, we're terrified that anything will happen to the few that we have. We follow them around on playgrounds and everywhere saying 'do be careful dear, don't climb up there, don't do that, don't swing too high, don't do that' and then we bring them home and let them play angry birds (well me, I let my kids play angry birds but I feel really guilty about it). And so they learn not to take any risks, except maybe on the internet.

On that note, I'm going to go tell the child I hear meddling in the kitchen to Stop It, risk or no risk, naked or clothed, vomitous or not.


Teacher Mommy said...

We still have all those Deadly Things here, including climbing walls and monkey bars and high winding slides. Thus my son's best friend's broken collar bone. But they so have so much fun!!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how we survived climbing trees, riding bikes without helmets and with 1 or 2 others on the bike, playing with slingshots, fighting with sticks for swords, playing mumbelty peg with knifes, drinking out of water hoses, etc. but at 71 i made it thru it all without any major hurts.

Joyce Carlson said...

Of course I didn't dream of suing when you broke your arm falling off the monkey bars beside the Easter Seal pool of all places. I didn't even imagine that anyone would sue for such a mishap, until I realized how anxious the E S people were to avoid all implication in your distress. I just got you to the doctor, but felt very lonely, and felt very small and isolated by the anxiety of everyone else not to be involved. In fact, I thought it was horrid of them, in retrospect.

The Copes said...

Here in Germany the playgrounds are anything but safe: cement tiles under monkeybars, large gravel under swing-sets, non-sanded wooden beams for the fence. And the sand! So much sand to throw in faces, dump on heads and eat. It's very different from the rubberized mats or 3 feet of mulch under play equipment or plastic-coated covers for swing chains. And then there are the 24 month old babies riding pedal bikes (without training wheels) like Lance Armstrong...

Lynne Harris said...

good post again Anne (I am loving reading your blog!) got me thinking about some of the things I used to get up to as a child! And how I try to let my kids be more adventurous but it's not very easy these days because of all the safety regs everywhere and the disapproving glares of other parents as I let my children run up the slide and do tricks on their bikes and (horror of horrors) walk ON THEIR OWN in THE WOODS!
Check out Meg Rosoff's blog ... she wrote about the same thing earlier this week ... I think you might like it

Anonymous said...

Yes, I recall as a kid them ripping out the fantastic dangerous splintery high wooden playground, and replacing it with short, safe, boring plastic. nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhnuhhhhhhhhhhhhhbgg contributes my eldest daughter. There is a playground here with a zipline, which is pretty neat.


Scoop said...

My husband once insisted on taking our first child solo on three planes to surprise his mother for her birthday, and he dressed her in a white eyelet dress. That did not end happily, either for said daddy or for the 18 unfortunate souls who were trapped on a 19 seat plane with a adorable baby who looked like she was a bag of poo that had exploded.

I later let-- nay, encouraged-- my other two kids to climb a tree in front of my house and I watched their excitement as they scampered up the branches. A woman driving by stopped and screamed-- yes, screamed-- at me for being a bad mother. Five minutes later, the physical education teacher who lives up the street stopped and praised me. Go figure.