Real estate prices, as I continue to mention, are through the roof. And it's because our population in this area is exploding. We have something like the fifth highest growth rate in the country. It's not simply because of immigration, or BATs, or birth rates -- we also have a slower death rate. And I can tell you why that is. Yes, our roads are too congested and our housing prices are so unreasonable because our kids are so outrageously safe.
My daughter eats whole grain foods, organic vegetables, takes flouride supplements and full spectrum vitamins with iron. She rides in the back seat with child safety windows and locks, and a five-point safety harness. Her environment is free of lead paint and asbestos. She is completely bathed and decontaminated after petting any strange dogs or cats, or talking to any child who doesn't have an up-to-date immunization record with him.
I, on the other hand, recall riding in the open back of a pickup truck, drinking sodas and eating Doritos and bacon lard by the handful. My girlhood friend, Luanne, once fell completely out of the backseat of their car in a busy, two-lane 35 mph zone. Her parents paused to pick her up, told her to quit screwing around, and thought no more of the matter. At a school with asbestos walls, we chewed and stabbed each other with lead pencils and dared classmates to eat Elmer's Glue, earthworms and anything that we had left in our lunchboxes for more than a week. After school, we walked home through isolated alleyways and took "blood brother" oaths to put spiritual bonds on things like promising to let a friend have a few chews on a piece of bubblegum before it lost all its flavor. Child safety laws? Bah! We lived by Darwin's laws! And let me tell you, we didn't have to worry about overcrowded classrooms. Or getting a date. If you still had all your teeth and limbs by junior high, by God, you were a hottie.
My daughter is three years old now. We got her a bicycle. It has training wheels. When I was her age, you learned to ride a bike by falling off until you figured it out. Or, in my case, until the bleeding was so severe that I decided to skip the bike stage and wait until I was old enough to drive a car.
I went to take my daughter outside to teach her to ride the wuss way when my husband stopped me. Because she wasn't wearing a helmet.
"John. She's barely three feet off the ground and is about as fast as video downloads on dialup. She's in more danger when she's walking."
"It's the law," he said, but it doesn't make sense to me. The one place kids really need safety gear, no one bothers with it. I am, of course, referring to potty training. I watch my poor critter crawl up onto that porcelain death trap several times a day. She's so small, she has to cling like a spider monkey to the seat not to fall in. Are oxygen tanks mandatory? Life vests? No. Not so much as a set of water wings.
A child in our neighborhood sustained repeated head injuries during potty training. For weeks, every single time he hopped off the potty and bent over to pull his pants up, he would strike his head sharply against the toilet. Where are our helmet laws when we really need them?
Yet another young man of our acquaintance has suffered numerous bumps and scrapes fleeing in terror from the sight of liquid waste successfully exiting his own body. Now whether that situation calls for mandatory elbow pads and shin guards or for mandatory blinders, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure the only reason one or the other isn't enforced is because state legislators are trying to even out our population boom.
My husband saw us the other day as I brought Lillian in from riding her bicycle. As soon as we got inside, I found her helmet and fastened it securely on. "Thanks, Mom!" she said, running off to the bathroom.
"Sweetheart," he told me, "She has to wear the helmet when she's on the bike because that's the law."
"Fine," I grumbled as Lill came bolting from the bathroom with a streamer of toilet paper trailing from her helmet.
My way makes more sense, though.
Comments and potty protective gear to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.
This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.
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