Lindy’s Blog: Where Mom is Always Right

September 16, 2008

Check your common sense at the door

*If you arrived here from a childbirth-related tag, please go to my The Female Problem page for more*

Now the first of (perhaps?) a series on what my husband calls “The Wussification of America.”  It goes hand-in-hand with another phenomenon, the politically correct movement.  It is also closely related to the litigation-happy social climate.  Once again, you may all take a deep breath, and envision me climbing atop a big box with the letters S-O-A-P on it.  Prepare yourselves.

First off, know that I’m not against things like handicapped ramps and all that stuff.  That’s all great for navigating with a stroller.  And the kid-friendly/kid-safe stuff is nice, too.  Carseats are a sound invention (as much for their safety purpose as their containment aspect), and I have really no problem with child safety locks, toilet lid locks, etc… To a point.  After we had Linus, somehow my name got on a mailing list for a catalog called One Step Ahead.  (Do you moms know it?)  Every time I get one, I make a point of sitting right down and looking through it solely for the comedic aspect.  Talk about everything a new parent thinks they “need” when having a baby!  It’s ridiculous.  One of my favorites?  A little, inflatable helmet, that velcros on your little crawler’s head, so that they don’t crawl into the coffee table and bump their noggin.  And I don’t know where they find these kids in the pictures, who actually are smiling with this contraption stuck to their heads.  The pages are filled with this type of item, so if you ever see this catalog and need a good laugh, I’d suggest opening it up.  (The only one better?  Perhaps the Foster and Smith catalog, only the items in there, though similar to those in One Step Ahead, are for your pets.) 

There is a fine line here.  It seems that with each new liability threat, a little more common sense is being lost.  Take the playground.  For liability purposes, the ground underneath the playground equipment must be gravel.  This makes it impossible to run on (probably the intent), and it also gets into sandals like a scourge.  This means that my job as a mother has just gotten a lot more difficult.  Now, instead of sitting on the bench watching my kids play, I have to unload a pound of gravel from each kids’ shoes every thirty seconds.  What’s wrong with grass?  This is just one example of many that I see around me all the time.  Helmets for kids on little trikes that are a foot from the ground.  No more treated wood for playground equipment.  Only the big contraptions made out of old milk jugs.  You get the idea.

Like David says, pretty soon we won’t be able to leave the house without full HAZMAT regalia.  It’s a wonder we can still drive our cars.  I am of course being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but there is a darker side to all of this.  This wussification/abject fear of litigation/evaporation of common sense and REASON is seeping into any number of areas, where it is doing real damage.  I’m sure each and every one of you has experienced this at some point or another, and can think of many examples of your own.  I am going to expound how this phenomenon has taken hold of maternity care and childbirth.  I’m starting a new page that I’ll title Female Stuff or something similar as a courtesy to my male readers who might not wish to read about va-jay-jays and the like.  But I promise you that it will be enlightening.  Stay tuned.

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1 Comment »

  1. I agree that lawsuits are becoming far too common – that manufacturers and property owners are bombarded with unfounded claims. These unfounded claims eat into business owner’s profits, and we all know who ends up paying in the end. We do – the consumers (when prices are raised to compensate for the lawyer’s fees, settlement costs, etc).

    Sometimes; however, people (customers, the public, etc) are injured or killed when manufacturers and property owners fail to meet minimum safety standards. Although there is no need to wrap our children in bubble-wrap – we do need to protect them from real dangers. And the playground is one place where dangers do exist and need to be addressed.

    I realize your blog is tongue-in-cheek (as you stated); however I want to comment on a couple of your statements. I hope this helps you and your readers understand a bit about playground safety. The information may help you protect your loved ones from being seriously injured or even killed.

    1. Pea-gravel and other surfaces found beneath playstructures (wood mulch, shredded tires, etc.) aren’t there to keep children from running. Instead, protective surfaces are installed to absorb the energy from a fall to keep children from sustaining life threatening head trauma if they were to fall. Most playground injuries are caused from children falling from equipment onto an inappropriate surface below. To be in compliance with playground safety standards, typically 12 inches of gravel is required to adequately absorb the energy from a 6 ft fall. Even a short fall of a few feet onto a grassy surface can result in death. Recently in New Jersey, a 10 year old child fell from an 8 foot slide and landed on his head. Even though the ground was covered with a protective rubber surface, he died from his injuries (the slide was likely to tall for the type of protective surface below). Without protective surfacing, a fall from even a few feet could result in death.

    2. Treated wood contains arsenic and easily contaminates the ground surrounding a treated wood playstructure. Serious health affects are attributed to ingesting arsenic (kids lick fingers after touching the wood or dirt and ingest a small amount of the poison). Why use chemically treated wood when metal and plastic pose no known health concerns?

    You mentioned bicycle helmets (although not regarding playgrounds). Interestingly enough, the overwhelming majority of playground deaths (not injuries) are from strangulation, usually when clothing (drawstrings, scarves, etc) becomes caught on play equipment – usually slides). Bicycle helmets are also a concern when used on playgrounds because a helmet can become stuck between posts on an elevated surface, and a child can then become strangled by the chin straps (and many have). So, don’t let your children wear bicycle helmets, scarves, or clothing with drawstrings when at a playground.

    Supervision is extremely important; but even the best supervision cannot prevent the most serious types of playground injuries (a fall happens in the blink of an eye). The best way to prevent playground injuries is to provide a good thick layer of cushioning material below. Pea gravel is widely the material of choice – and yes it is dusty, and the stones get into shoes. I don’t like having to empty shoes out either – but I’ll never complain about it since I know it is there to prevent serious injury.

    Let kids be kids. Let them run and play. A few scrapes, bumps and bruises teach them their limits and help with their mental development while the exercise helps them grow physically. But keep an eye on them and make sure that the equipment they’re playing on is in good shape so they can continue being kids.

    Comment by Ian — September 16, 2008 @ 3:36 pm |Reply


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