My 7-year-old daughter is a wonderfully creative and meticulous child who just so happens to have a fascination with ropes. By ropes I mean curtain ties, shoelaces, pet leashes, workout bands, hair ties, Velcro straps, bandannas, any kind of common household restraining device she can get her hands on. She will bondage up a stuffed bunny between her bedposts hammock style and booby-trap the coat closet (see left) into an elaborate spider's web of hangers and stringage. As bizarre as her projects are, they take so much thought and engineering I hate to dissuade her -- until now, until today's story about the little girl my daughter's exact age who strangled herself while playing with a jump rope. So awful and random, all my brain can process is that it's time to break my little one of herhabit right away.
"Make sure you wrap or secure the cords to all your window blinds." That's one of the first childproofing lessons we learn as parents. But we foolishly think that only pertains to babies and toddlers, who are too young to know any better. But this recent story is a reminder that even ropes and bigger kids do not mix.
The 7-year-old girl in Washington state was at a playground jumping rope with her 5-year-old brother and two babysitters. The accident happened when the babysitters went off with her little brother to pick berries. When they came back, the little girl was lying on the ground with the rope around her neck. She died at the hospital a short while later.
Stories like this chill to the bone because who would ever suspect tragedy out of something so innocent, something so seemingly "safe" as a jump rope, a toy kids have been playing with for decades upon decades in every park, driveway, and school playground everywhere. Who would ever think we constantly need to supervise our children while playing with one.
Even I've been lax when it comes to my daughter's own rope handiwork. It always seemed more cute and innovative than dangerous, even when she used the ropes on herself. Like inventing new outfits consisting entirely of bandannas (definitely not something she'd be allowed wearing out of the house) or velcroing a bed sheet to her body to play ghost. Lord knows what brilliant but dangerous idea is going to pop into her head next!
Yes this is probably rare, most freak accidents are. But it doesn't make them any less shocking to read. At least there's a lesson for other parents, at a horrible unfair cost, of course. It's time to help my daughter channel all that ingenuity into something else. Perhaps macrame? Or rock-climbing. That requires lots of knot tying, and is probably much safer.
Does this story make you reconsider letting your child play with ordinary things that could have hidden dangers?