Let the kids have fun
We have long known that the nanny state has grand desires to insulate us from all manner of harm. This goes double for children, who are increasingly seen as potential victims of all sorts of pitfalls, ills, and troubles, rather than, you know, being kids. And with summer here, and many parents looking to let the kids roam in the yard or parks, or perhaps go to the beach for fun and sun, the nanny warnings are coming fact and furious:
“Studies show that children playing in the sand are more likely to become ill than children merely walking on it. And the risk of illness increases with digging in the sand, being ‘buried’ in it, and digging in wet sand.”
Got it. Keep your kids on dry sand. No, wait: “Dry sand presents problems, too.” So, Dr. Neumann warns: “Discourage children from lying directly on the sand.”
While you’re at it: “Walking barefooted is another ‘don’t.’ Have children wear lightweight, ventilated, hard-soled footwear that covers the toes. This helps prevent stubbed toes, lacerations, puncture wounds, and burns from hot sand. Ideally, footwear should be worn for wading in the water.”
Why take them to the beach at all? Keep them at home on a hard, nonporous surface, free of dirt and obstacles, checking frequently for venomous spiders, disease-bearing insects, and sewage. Children should be in steel-toed work boots at all times, as well as oven mitts and chain mail.
Oh, but there's more:
Simply keeping the kids at home doesn’t ensure they’re safe, especially if they make it into the backyard. Parents magazine warns that “bees are attracted to flowers, so don’t put fragrances or floral-patterned clothing on kids.” Surely you’ve seen swarms of bees chasing children in floral prints, convinced they are flowering shrubs in work boots?
The American Academy of Pediatrics, meanwhile, suggests that if your moppets still insist on playing outside, the little daredevils at least “limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.” That shouldn’t put a crimp in anyone’s day, should it?
The academy is afraid that kids will get too much sun. It’s also afraid they’ll get too little sun and end up with rickets. A related fear is that kids won’t get enough water because . . . well, everyone is obsessed with “hydration” these days.
It’s always seemed to me that drinking when thirsty does the trick. No. Now there’s a new product on the market called Gululu, which is a water bottle with a Wi-Fi connection. The Gululu app allows parents to monitor how much water their child is drinking. The cagey gadget even knows if the kids are secretly not drinking—pouring out water to stop their parents from texting them to drink more.
To make the sipping less onerous—it really does get tiring if you’re not thirsty—an animated character on the bottle’s built-in screen grows happier and healthier the more the child drinks. Let’s hear it for more screen time!
We are tempted to say that nanny has gone too far, and would keep kids swathed in bubble wrap and locked in a safe. And that wouldn't be wrong, except this allows too many parents and grandparents off the hook for following nanny's advice to the letter.
Skinned knees, sunburn, and dirty nails are a part of growing up. Or they used to be, before we allowed ourselves to be bullied into thinking, and acting, as if no minor inconvenience should ever cloud a child's life.
All that does is make us crazy with worry about the wrong things. And it prevents our kids from learning through experience -- and most of all, having fun.