This past weekend my dad told me a story regarding some family friends and their granddaughter. When I heard what had happened I was actually flabbergasted and appalled. It would never have crossed my mind to act as this couple’s son and daughter-in-law acted, and if I did I know how my parents would have reacted. Let me tell you the story.
Our friends live on a farm where they raise cattle and a variety of other livestock (chickens, goats, horses, miniature donkeys, etc). They raised two boys on the farm, and the youngest son lives about 10 minutes away with his wife and children. The grand daughter was over, so her grandmother took her out on the four wheeler as she went to help fix fence. Now, I’m a farm kid myself so none of this is unusual. Heck, I was driving the tractor by age six when my dad fixed fence. As long as you are taught how to respect the mechanical things and what not, then you’re fine. So, the grandmother was driving slow since she had her granddaughter sitting in front of her on the four wheeler. They hit a bump that hadn’t been visible, and the little girl slightly banged her head on the handle bars. It wasn’t a bad bump, but just in case the grandma took her back to the house and tried to put a cold compress on it. The granddaughter was not having any of that and went about the business of playing. She was perfectly fine.
When the daughter-in-law stopped to pick up her daughter she freaked out when she was told about the little bump. She insisted that they put an ice pack on it, and it was explained to her that the little one had absolutely no interest in that at all. Instead of realizing that the kid was okay and a little bump wasn’t going to hurt her (kids are so resilient!) the DIL ran around the house, chasing her daughter, trying to put the ice pack on her forehead. By the time that the chase came to an end she took the girl’s temp and discovered that it was half a degree above normal! This was cause for alarm! It didn’t seem to register with this mother that normal temp can fluctuate without meaning anything, and the fact that she had just chased her daughter all around and worked up a sweat didn’t even cross her mind.
The part that really blew my mind was the fact that this woman insisted that her husband (our friends’ son) load the daughter into the car so that they could run her to the emergency room. *sound of record screeching to a halt* Yes, you heard me correctly. They ran the little girl to the emergency room for a little bump on the head. There wasn’t any blood, the little girl was acting just fine, and nothing suggested that there might be an issue. Instead of putting his foot down and telling her that they were absolutely NOT dragging their daughter to the ER, he did as he was told. Are you ready for another kicker? Instead of taking the little girl to one of the ER’s within 30 miles of their house, they instead drove 50 miles to an ER in another state. Yep. For a bump on the head. If the little girl had been acting confused, disoriented, or abnormal in any way then I would have agreed that they needed to go get her checked out. But she wasn’t. The only thing that the son said to his wife was, “My mom’s going to be pissed if she gets thrown in jail.” Gee… what a good son.
The doctor in the ER told them that it was ridiculous for them to drag the little girl there and they couldn’t keep doing this every time she gets a little scrape or bump. The kid was fine, per the doctor’s examination. However, the grandparents are not at all thrilled. They’ve been told that there will be a list of rules that they will need to abide by if they want to watch their granddaughter again. Their daughter-in-law had insisted that they take a CPR and first aide class before they could even watch their granddaughter.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I even thought of suggesting a list of rules for my parents to abide by if they wanted to watch their grandchildren then I know that my parents would tell me what I could do with that list. It’s not like they haven’t raised their own kids. I would never even presume to act like I know more about raising children than my parents. I turned out pretty good so I trust my parents. And guess what? Kids are going to get hurt. It’s just the nature of the beast. You can’t wrap them in bubble wrap and make them wear a helmet and elbow pads. Kids will be kids. We all get scrapes, bumps and bruises… yet we managed to survive. I hit my sister in the head with a golf club (accidentally!) and she’s not any weirder than she was at that time. I managed to get hit in the head with a baseball and a Kirby vacuum (not at the same time!) and I managed to graduate from high school.
Parents, please let your kids explore and live life without the fetters of ‘safety’. Yes, there are definite precautions that should be taken, like bicycle helmets. But if you try to keep your kids from getting hurt in any way you’re just going to end up doing more damage to them in the long run. Let them run wild and free! Just make sure to have the antibiotic ointment and bandage at hand for the inevitable cuts that are going to happen. Don’t kill the enjoyment of life for them. Growing up I spent most days of the summer crawling around the creek on wet, slippery rocks. I fell, I received my share of scratches, and I had fun! Your kids will survive and at the end of the day when they come in all dirty and in one piece they will have a lot of stories to tell you about their adventures. Don’t take that away from them… and you.