A freak accident on a school field trip in Minnesota has left one child dead and one more still missing. The group of fourth graders had been digging for fossils when the gravel they were standing on collapsed beneath their feet, forming a hole that swallowed four of the children.
Frantic digging uncovered two of them, but a third was killed and one more is still missing. It's an absolute nightmare scenario for a parent. One minute your child is happy and excited to be headed on a field trip, and the next they are gone. One of the hardest parts of parenting is knowing how vulnerable we are, and it's stories like this that remind us.
We can't stop sending our kids to school or on field trips (unless we want to be paranoid). We just have to trust and have faith that stories like this are the exception, not the norm. But how?
My heart breaks for the parents of these children. I can't even imagine what that call must have felt like for them, though I do have some inkling. It's the thing all parents play in their heads when we send our kids off to school. It's the fear in the back of our heads every time they play at the playground or do a gymnastics flip or run out ahead of us while cars go whizzing by.
Life is dangerous. We all know this. Most of the time, we can put these thoughts somewhere else. We have to in order to get through our days. The other day a friend of mine was saying she was nervous about her kid's field trip and I didn't get why. Her kid is 12 and seems more than capable of going on a field trip. But now I get it.
Though my children are small and I have a pretty decent handle on their day-to-day activities, they are starting to get more independent. Fourth grade is such a time of exploration, such a transition from younger child to bigger one. I can only imagine the fears those parents must have had and the skills it takes to let them explore anyway. Obviously, freak accidents can happen anywhere, but it IS scarier when they go on a trip like this.
Field trips are a good thing. Some of my favorite childhood memories were made on various school sponsored trips. But they do increase the chances of something bad happening. There is less supervision, more opportunity for things to go wrong, and just more variables in general. We can't pack the whole world full of cotton and hide our kids away, but sometimes stories like these make me want to.
My heart is breaking for everyone involved in this awful story.
Do you get scared of field trips?
Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr