The way I see it, summer is the season of childhood. We moms have our day in May. Dads have one in June. And kids get three months to just revel in being kids.
But I woke up this morning on the second weekday of my kid's summer vacation to news that makes me sort of wish I could put a pack on her back and send her off to the next grade already. In just one news cycle, we have three horrific stories of kids killed while just being kids. Talk about a sad reminder that summer dangers are just as prevalent as summer fun.
There's the little boy killed while riding his scooter. There's the 7-year-old who accidentally hung himself with his karate belt while climbing a tree. There's the 9-year-old who suffered a fatal injury while diving in a pool. I more or less just listed the triumvirate of summer fun for kids, didn't I? Each with a heartbreaking story?
And this is why we turn around all the time to see another parent canning the classic "kid" pleasures of summer and plunking the kiddos on the couch to ride out the season. I stood at a graduation party last night talking to a dad who's about my age, and we couldn't help comparing our childhoods to those we expect our kids to have. Much of the "just come back when it's dark, kids" fun of our early days is verboten for parents in 2012.
I don't agree with locking our kids down. But that doesn't mean we should be complacent either. Just because kids have been swimming and riding scooters for decades doesn't mean we can't learn something new.
Should we be careful, aware parents? Yes. Absolutely. I use sunscreen. I don't let her ride her bike in the road. I have a dozen rules and then some about everything from strangers to strange dogs.
But if there's one thing all these sad stories teach us, it's that there's danger everywhere. We can't foresee every single possible problem. I mean, hanging by karate belt? Really?
So even as my heart breaks for the parents of the three children lost in the midst of summer fun, it's them that I will have in mind when I send my daughter out to the backyard later to cavort in the sprinkler. I won't let these stories keep my kid from being a kid this summer, but I will use them to keep me on my toes.
What about you? Do you feel like summertime fun for kids has been curtailed since you were a youngster?
Image via pasotraspaso/Flickr