The phrase "helicopter parent" is hurled at moms and dads all the time as an insult. But if you've been watching the news lately and you haven't felt the teensiest temptation to switch into hover mode, you're a better person than me. Let's talk, just for example, about the little girl who died in her own home this week while playing an old-fashioned game of hide and seek. I had to talk myself down to reality after this one, that's for sure.
So far it looks like Kylee Mills Simmerman crawled into her bean bag chair to hide. The 3-year-old's family looked everywhere for her, but by the time they found her, she'd suffocated.
Tell me that Kylee's sad story didn't give you pause? You didn't have a fleeting thought of, "No more hide and seek in my house!"?
It's so tempting.
Every time one of these "OMG, child perishes under freak circumstances" stories crops up in the news, I have the same war within myself. My heart breaks for the family involved, and I put myself in their shoes. I wonder what they do next, what do I do next?
Do I continue to follow the common sense method of living whereby I let my daughter take reasonable risks so she can learn to spread her wings? Where I continue to drive my car, to take the occasional airplane, to eat from the occasional restaurant?
Or do I shut down, hide inside, become the agoraphobic I could very easily (and comfortably) become? The second, tempting as it sounds, is no way to live, it gives us no guarantee that some freak accident won't happen.
Yes, freak things will happen. Little girls get strangled by their own jump ropes. Giant sinkholes open up and swallow teenagers as they walk down the street. Sewer drains suck random bike riders into their depths.
Kids can get hurt, and us adults too. Tomorrow I could walk out into the street and someone could run a stop sign and plow me down. I could become the next victim of flesh eating bacteria or some drugged up loon could try to throw me in front of a train.
But I still need to grocery shop tomorrow. I still need to put gas in my car and hit the bakery for bread and do all the little things that make up a life but could, if we're talking freak accidents, ostensibly put me in danger.
So I'll do them. Because that's how we live our lives, not by locking ourselves and our kids up, by banning hide and seek and ridding the world of jump ropes. We live our lives with common sense, with reasonable risk. We try to enjoy ourselves as best we can, we try to let our kids have fun without flaunting the basic rules of safety.
I'll let my daughter continue to be a kid, to jump rope and play hide and seek, to ride her bike and walk down the street. Because while poor Kylee Simmerman's family mourns the fact that they won't get to see their little girl grow up, the rest of us still have the chance to let our kids live ... we ought to let them live well.
How do you temper the temptation to hide away when these kind of stories crop up in the news?
Image via LocoSteve/Flickr