Safety First

We are constantly trying to mitigate injuries, but with three boys in the house it can be a challenge. It started out with common sense type directives, don't walk down the stairs with your hands in your pockets and don't run your brother over with the wheel barrow. As they grew older and wiser about the scarring effects of wheel barrows, they graduated to self propelled equipment. It started with bicycles, and recently they have all three gravitated towards scooters that, while innocuous looking, are capable of inflicting serious harm in the blink of an eye.

The boys had acquired some inexpensive scooters, and they served their purpose well for more than a year. After all, one shouldn't spend a lot of money on a scooter unless there is going to be real interest in riding them. Turns out there was a lot of interest and even more so when one enterprising young son discovered that he could do stunts with them. All of this stunting desire then led to safety gear. Knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards were all procured in the name of preventing broken bones. For smaller kids, getting decked out in joint protection is much like suiting up to go out into the snow. It usually requires adult assistance, constant adjustment and is on the child for less time than it took to suit them up.

As their skills progressed or rather as their attempts at stunts carried on, we learned quickly that scooters manufactured in an economical manner are far from durable. Axles come apart and decks crack. You weld them back together, but it becomes a losing battle of repeated stress on a flimsy frame. So you take the temperature of the child's desire and see how much money they would like to contribute to a more durable scooter. A decent percentage is offered up, and you go online and order a new, improved model.

A few days go by and when you arrive home from work on a Tuesday, you find your son is scootering away in front of the house. To celebrate this moment of joy, you request the opportunity to ride it. The child honors your request and you, without elbow pads, knee pads, gloves or helmet ride the scooter in a most hypocritical fashion at a furious pace two houses down the street all the while the boy is running beside you. You then turn around and race back up the sidewalk trying to keep pace with a very fast eight year old and just as you are about to get back to your starting point, a gaggle of kids blocks your path. To avoid bowling them over, you turn the handlebars slightly to the right. It is fractions of a second later when you realize your slight maneuver was not slight at all - it was a massive overcompensation.The result of which implants the front wheel of the scooter into the soft earth just inches from the driveway.

For those unfamiliar with scooters, soft earth may as well be a brick wall when it comes to adult weight and small wheels. The scooter instantly stops and, as physics dictate, the aforementioned body in motion continues at a most unfavorable trajectory. It happened so fast and was so unexpected that I wasn't quite sure what actually happened. It was sheer involuntary reflex and fear that I was able to let go of the handlebars just prior to my impact on the driveway and get them far enough in front of me so as not to inadvertently adjust my charming good looks with a concrete face peel. It was probably the most graceful near disaster I've ever executed.

With so many children watching on, I didn't dare dawdle, limp, speak the very bad words appropriate for such a moment or admit to injury. I merely imparted some words of wisdom, "Never drive your scooter into soft earth and always wear a helmet." I then indicated I had business to conduct indoors, and I made my way there with as much haste as a bruised body could.

Upon entering the house, I found our nanny with tears running down her face...brought on by hysterical laughter. Immediately behind her was Wife laughing in unison. It was evident that sympathy for my foolish ride would not be forthcoming. They both claimed they were very concerned for my well being for almost two seconds following my acrobatics, then deeply saddened they had not been filming it, followed by an uncomfortably long bout of laughter. Fortunately there were no visible marks or permanent injury, only the tender soreness of my pride from not putting safety first.