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Front Page » May 26, 2009 » Opinion » Rantings and Ravings
Published 1,983 days ago

Rantings and Ravings


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By TERRY WILLIS
Sun Advocate writer

I watched my granddaughter ride her bike to school today. It was her first time doing it by herself. She is in third grade and we do live a ways from the school.

I remember riding my bike to school by the time I was in third grade. We went pretty much everywhere. I was riding the city bus downtown with my slightly older sister by the time I was 10. It just seems so much harder now to give our kids the freedom to roam and explore like we did as kids. Most of the same dangers were there when I was growing up, but now I think about them more. The way our society looks at them is also different. We have taken much more pro-active steps to keep our kids safe. Helmets for about everything and "stranger danger" lessons are the norm. Fences and signs are mandatory around every hazard that might entice a child.

As kids we never thought twice about heading down to a drainage ditch to build dams in the water. We skated, skateboarded and biked without helmets. We all walked to school every day from many, many blocks away and didn't think about getting snatched by strangers.

We did really stupid things and survived. When I was about three, my friends across the street used to grab their dad's car bumper every day and "push" him out of the driveway when he left for work. We thought it looked like fun, but my dad always said no.

Then one day, as I watched, the little brother didn't let go and dad drug him up the street a ways before realizing what was happening. The boy was pretty scraped up, but lived. They didn't "push" the car any more.

That was how it seemed like we learned our lessons in those days. The school of hard knocks and others mistakes. It may not have always been the way to learn, but at the time it was the best we had.

Now we hear stories often about accidents involving children and it changes our perspective. After enough media stories, I am so paranoid about backing over a child, that if the girls are outside they have to go sit on the front porch when I leave. Maybe I'm a little over reactive, but then again, I know where they are and they are safe.

I worry about my granddaughter getting hit by a car as she rides to school. There is so much more traffic now a days. I have tried to teach her well by riding many places with her, but I sure worry. Maybe my mother did too and I just didn't know it.

But off she goes and I keep my fears in check and let her feel the freedom of independence.

It is that time of year when school is out and there are many kids out running around. We need to make sure we are extra vigilant as we drive. Put the cell phones down for a few minutes and keep your eyes on the road. Children are impulsive. That is part of their developmental stages. They run and dart places without thinking.

Make sure you expect the unexpected as you drive through our city streets. We need to step up our part as adults to protect our kids while we find ways to let our kids be kids.

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May 26, 2009
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