Six year old Sage had a gymnastics performance yesterday. She wore her sparkly blue leotard and joined her classmates in walking across the balance beam, somersaulting, and twirling around the uneven bars. We were proud of her.
Then the older kids did their thing.
Girls not much older than Sage flipped across the mat at the speed of light, one after the other, almost too fast for my aging eyes to track. I became increasingly uncomfortable. What if one of them landed the wrong way? It wouldn't take much for one of them to die; for Pete's sake, my eight-year-old fractured her tibia last January doing a simple floor jump. What if one of these kids landed on her head instead of her hands?
Then came the tweens and teens, who performed what looked like a cheerleading routine. Girls stood on other girls' hands, girls were thrown and flipped in the air and caught by their teammates, girls spun ten feet off the ground and thankfully did not fall on their necks.
All these gymnasts were fantastic. Their instructors are top-notch and the studio is fabulous. All the parents had a right to be happy and proud.
As I looked around at the multitude of cheering adult faces, I wondered how many of these parents would let these same children hike up Mt. Washington in the middle of winter. Probably not many. Maybe even none. But they let their ten to sixteen year old kids flip head over heels through the air at the speed of light?
These people are nuts.
What about the parents of football players? If your son is a quarterback, that's fantastic...right? Why? Football (along with gymnastics and cheerleading) accounts for a lion's share of the catastrophic injuries and fatalities that occur in traditional children's sports. Reference.
The parents of football players are also nuts.
Perhaps it's better to avoid all children's sports and just let the kids ride their bikes around the neighborhood. That's safe enough, isn't it? Probably not, considering that 86 bike-riding kids under the age of 16 were struck and killed by cars in 2009. Ten thousand (!!) more were struck and injured. Reference.
Therefore, any parent who lets her kid get on a bicycle is absolutely, without a doubt, 100% nuts.
What about hiking Four Thousand Footers? To be fair, a legitimate comparison can't be made because analogous studies have not been conducted. That being said, any parent who takes their kid up a Four Thousand Footer, especially in the middle of winter, must clearly be nuts, right..?
So I guess that makes me nuts.
So which parents aren't nuts? The ones who keep their kids away from all sports and general physical activity? Nope. Inactive kids have a higher risk of becoming obese and developing high blood pressure and diabetes.
These parents are definitely nuts.
So what's the solution to all this nuttery?
I suppose we'll each have to decide what constitutes acceptable risk for our own individual family -- and we'll have to respect the decisions other parents make for their own individual families. We don't all have to agree. However, we can't try to force our own conclusions down other people's throats. After all, nuttery abounds, no one's immune.
I'll take my six year old up a 4000 foot mountain when it's ten degrees because we're prepared, I carry everything we need for an accidental night out, and I stick to popular trails. Some other mother will let her daughter spin and flip fifteen feet off the ground because she has complete faith in her daughter's abilities and the rest of the team's competence. Yet another mother will let her ten year old girl bike around the block because she knows her daughter will be careful and watch for cars. Etc.
Not that any of this matters, because at some point each of us will strap our kid into a car and drive him or her somewhere. And THAT, my friends, is the most dangerous activity of all.
- UP: REVIEWS and PRESS
- GraniteGals PODCAST
- Speaking Engagements/Nonprofit Fundraisers
- Alex in the White Mountains (Alex's hiking blog)
- Sage's White Mountain Treks (Sage's hiking blog)
- California's Lost Coast Trail. June 8-9, 2019
- England's Coast to Coast Trail 2018
- Cohos Trail 2017
- Iceland's Laugavegur Trail 2016
- Great Wall of China Trek 2015
- John Muir Trail 2014
- El Camino de Santiago 2013
- NH Four Thousand Footers (Alex and Sage)
- NH Four Thousand Footers -- WINTER (Alex and Sage)
- Trailwrights 72 (Alex and Sage)
- 52 With a View (Sage)
- The Terrifying Twenty-Five
- The White Mountain Grid