A few months ago, my family was accused of being "an accident waiting to happen." This accusation came via private message and in direct response to a piece I wrote, Parenting and Acceptable Risk. The sender has a history of sending offensive rants, so I didn't take much of what she wrote seriously. The "accident waiting to happen" bit, did, however, catch my attention.
Because she's right.
Not in the way she thinks, of course. We're not an accident waiting to happen because we hike on a regular basis. We're not an accident waiting to happen because we hike in the winter or in high winds or all day or into the night. If we were unprepared when we hiked, if we went outside without paying strict attention to the forecast, if we lacked map, compass, food, proper clothing, etc. -- then yes, I'd say that, on the trails, we were/are an accident waiting to happen.
But that's not the case.
What IS the case is that Alex and Sage are an accident waiting to happen. Or, more aptly, they are two separate accidents waiting to happen. Or, even more aptly, they are both separate and combined accidents waiting to happen.
Why? Because they're KIDS. And, after last night, I am convinced that each and every kid, no matter what you do and do not allow them to do, is an accident waiting to happen.
Hugh was standing outside the house, arms crossed and face grim, when I turned into the driveway last night. I was coming back from hiking Mount Liberty and Mount Flume with Sage; she was talking my ear off about how she wants to highpoint every state AND hike Kilimanjaro and Everest before she turns twelve (note: hate to burst the kid's bubble, but I'm not exactly sold on the Everest idea).
I parked, opened my car door, and heard Hugh's ominous words over Sage's chatter.
"Trish, something happened."
His next sentence, thank goodness, was, "Everything is okay now." My heart descended to its proper place and I politely shushed Sage. She went inside while I stood on the porch and listened as Hugh related the day's events.
He had taken Alex horseback riding at a local and reputable farm. Alex's horse had reared and she had fallen directly onto her face. He had taken her to the ER, they'd done all the proper exams, and the bottom line is that her nose might have a hairline fracture and her face might have a couple of minor scars in places that aren't noticeable. The swelling will go down in about a week and a half.
I went inside and Alex came to me.
Her face was completely swollen. Evidence of profuse bleeding was everywhere; blood had soaked through the upper part of her sweater, blood had dried and caked her nostrils and lips. The fresh and sutured lacerations looked angry and raw. She looked tender, fragile. It was a shock to my system, seeing Alex this way, and though my mind felt calm and clear, I began to shake uncontrollably. I held her for long minutes and was so, so grateful things weren't worse. Thankfully, she was no longer in a lot of pain. Just tired, very tired. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the couch and watching movies.
People have since told me that falls are relatively common in this socially acceptable childhood sport. A quick internet research reveals that in 2007, 78,000 people were seen in American emergency rooms for horseback riding-related injuries.
We allowed our kid to go horseback riding...she was therefore an accident waiting to happen.
Last January, Alex fractured her tibia in gymnastics, another socially acceptable childhood sport.
We allowed our child to take gymnastics...she was therefore an accident waiting to happen.
Sage has had her share of injuries. Her most recent was last January. She, Alex, and two of their friends decided to abandon the safe sledding hill and try the "more interesting route" (Sage's words) filled with brambles and low branches. This decision was, of course, made in the very short amount of time it took my friend and I to go inside and grab some coffee. I had just added the cream and sugar when Sage walked in with three wide and dripping red stripes across her face. Her right cheek and eye had been violently introduced to a protruding branch. "I think I'm bleeding," she calmly stated while the others jumped around and made a big, supportive fuss.
Sledding -- a horribly dangerous activity. Sage was obviously an accident waiting to happen.
Then there's bike riding, cheerleading, football, etc. -- I touch on these in Parenting and Acceptable Risk. Accidents waiting to happen.
Then there are all those little things that send a child to the ER...the time Alex slammed her hand in the car door, the time Sage tripped over air and banged her head against the wall, the time toddler Alex fell up (yes, up) a playground step and smashed her temple against protruding metal, the time a hellion threw sand directly into Sage's eyes hard enough to potentially scratch her corneas....if you're a parent, you know this list goes on and on and on.
So yes, my kids are definitely accidents waiting to happen. And those accidents will inevitably come...but probably not on the trail. That's not to say my girls are invincible in the woods. No one's immune to a twisted ankle or a broken leg, and sure, Alex or Sage might eventually fall the wrong way while hiking. However, statistically speaking, it's far more likely the next injury will come from doing something mundane...like riding in a car.
Kids. They're accidents waiting to happen, each and every one of 'em.
- 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