Friday, May 9, 2008

The Globalization of the Overprotective and Soft Headed

Time to ready a big shipment of helmets to send over to all of the soft headed Brits across the pond. Unfortunately, most of the people who need them would mistakenly assume that the helmet is for their precious little dandelion child to protect them from experiencing any sort of discomfort or distress what so ever. Of course that wouldn't actually happen, as there is no way that the helmet would fit over all of the swaddling clothes that they have enveloped their children in.

According to a poll done by Cycling England, 1,079 parents were surveyed about cycling. Of those surveyed, an astonishing 81% (yes, EIGHTY ONE) of parents BAN their children from biking independently because of their concerns about their child's safety. WTF? Now, I could see where ONE or TWO people might have reservations about letting their child engage in an activity where the parent had experienced some sort of trauma or knew someone who had been involved in a less than pleasant incident involving such an activity. I mean, if you're skydiving and your chute doesn't open and you miraculously survive for the sake of this argument that I'm writing at the moment, you're going to be a bit leery about your child skydiving. But of those 81% fearing for their precious little snowflakes safety, only THREE percent of them had actually known someone who had been in an accident involving a bicycle.

Then it has to be something else, right? Maybe they had HEARD about a rash of bike fatalities somewhere else? Maybe there was a bike recall? No? Nothing like that? It wouldn't appear so, as in 2006 there were ten times more accidents involving cars than there were accidents involving bicycles. (But I'll bet that those 81% strap their children into their cars as if they were a Top Gun pilot readying for flight in his F-14.

Philip Darnton of Cycling England says that this kind of behavior is creating what he calls "cul-de-sac kids", kids that are not allowed to ride their bikes outside of their own road/neighborhood and without adult supervision. I guess that "cul-de-sac kids" sounds a lot better than "offspring of nutjobs", but it's definitely a depressing moniker if there ever was one.

Most of the parents surveyed said "cycle training" would help reassure them in regard to their child riding a bike without adult supervision. (What in the hell good is adult supervision going to do when you are riding your bike? If you are going to fall or crash, there isn't a whole hell of a lot anyone can do about it. If there was, it would be the person on the bike avoiding the "tragedy", don't you think?) About two thirds of those in the survey with melted ice-cream soft craniums felt that their child did not have the confidence and skills to ride on the road. Well how in the hell COULD they have confidence when you're so afraid they're going to end up in a body bag that you don't even let them ride their bike when you're not around? I'd be a little lacking in the confidence department also!

The survey also showed that only one in five of these deprived children are allowed to use their bicycle as a way of getting from one place to another. That is unbelievable to me. My parents had ZERO desire to shuttle me around ANYWHERE. That's why they always made sure that my brother and I always had a bike. ALWAYS. But although these parents who were surveyd don't let their kids be kids, more than half said the same thing I just did, that when they were a kid their way of getting around was on their bike. So they must just assume that it is nothing short of a miracle that they were able to survive such danger and they must ensure that they do not expose their little rays of sunshine to the same sort of peril that they experienced.

The reason this frightens me is I have to wonder about the scope of which this kind of thinking and behavior extends and expands. If the parents are not letting their kids ride their bikes past the end of the driveway and even then, only with adult supervision, how restricted are the rest of their lives? No playing ball? No running? No swimming? No walking over to a friend's house by yourself? No kite flying? (Hey, string can choke! It's the hidden hazard of kiting!) How are these kids going to have ANY confidence that they can do ANYTHING at all? How are these kids going to be able to try anything new without worrying that it might "be dangerous". Hell, at least half of the things that you do as a kid are dangerous! That's why you do them! And they're the best! Think about your best memories as a kid. I can guarantee you the majority of them had some element of danger involved. Mine did. (And it's really a wonder I'm here typing this, actually, given some of the stunts I pulled).

See the picture above with the guy helping a child ride a bike with the assistance of what appears to be a giant salad fork? On the website where they are actually hawking that product, they had some guidelines for helping your child to ride a bike. Yes, guidelines. Many, many overprotective guidelines. Here's what they suggest:
  • When first starting, a helmet, knee and elbow pads, as well as gloves are a good idea. (Gloves?! GLOVES are a good idea?! No they're not! They don't need gloves! How is this kid even going to be able to pedal the bike with all of that stuff on?!)

  • Be sure they wear clothing that is protective and not so loose that it will get caught up in the bike. (Protective clothing? Not loose? OK, so now you've got your kid in his suit of armor, what's next?)

  • Blue jeans and sweatshirt are recommended. (Don't believe that. Go with the suit of armor.)

  • Find a safe place to start the instruction. A hard packed grass field is ideal, but asphalt tennis or basketball courts will work as well. Cul-de-sac streets can be an answer also, you are looking for no traffic areas. (Yes, you are not looking to teach your child to ride his or her bike on the Interstate. And I'm sure that whoever owns the "hard packed grass field" will have no problems at all with your teaching "Bike Riding That You Will Never Do Alone 101" on their field. Yeah, that should work.)

    See this? A nice day. A pink bike. No helmet. No one hovering over the child. And an enormous grin. That is a happy child. And that is NORMAL. Does the child look like she's been traumatized in some fashion from having this experience? Hardly. She should turn out just fine. But those who aren't allowed this normal rite of childhood could easily end up like Dahmer.

Stumble Upon Toolbar Sphere: Related Content

No comments: