While planning the new season of church school, a group of us volunteer moms thought it would be nice to have bean bag chairs and pillows in the common area where we will gather the kids to start the lessons each Sunday.
We were soon told that is not a good idea — too much of a chance for passing along head lice. If a child with lice lays on the pillows, it could transfer to another child. Perhaps those of you out there who are teachers or caregivers see this as a no-brainer, but I the volunteer-mom-Real Woman didn’t even think of that potential. So no pillows. Disappointing, but understandable.
However… this one small event made me think of all the other health & safety precautions we take today that never dawned on any of us when I was a child. Yes, most if not all of the precautions we take are for good reasons. And yet when considering all of the products and advice out there today, I start to wonder if it is an amazing feat that those of us over the age of 40 survived at all in comparison. Let’s consider just a few examples:
- The myriad of household baby-proofing products now available like outlet covers, cabinet locks and table edge cushions. When I was toddling around, my mother just made sure I didn’t stick my fingers where they didn’t belong and kept me away from sharp objects. Simple yet effective.
- Allergy-free food. Throughout my son’s grade school years, he was prohibited from bringing in any snack food that could contain nut ingredients due to the potential of other kids in his class having nut allergies. Similarly, there are warnings about those who are lactose intolerant, need glucose-free foods, and on and on. There are very real and very scary potentially life-threatening allergies and illnesses out there, and there are just as many theories as to why there seem to be more now than ever before. I could spend a month blogging about this issue, and venture into topics like the horrors of prepared & processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and more. Instead, let’s just say that it is too bad we have to be so very careful now. In my school days, we could bring in baked goods to share, and we could eat whatever we brought from home. In a nutshell (pardon the pun), we could eat and share without fear.
- Time alone. As a young girl growing up in the country, I could go off on my own for hours for long walks or bike rides or to meet friends. We all knew to be careful, and be home in time for dinner. There were no cell phones to carry with us, no texting to check in. I don’t remember ever being fearful. Rather than “beware of evil strangers lurking”, my mother gave me sage advice like during hunting season, “wear bright clothes and sing when you are out in the woods so a hunter doesn’t think you are a deer.” Today, however, I dread the first time I will let my son go off on his own on his bike — that dayis on the horizon, and I know I will be terrified to let him out of my sight. Is everything truly that much more dangerous now? Are there more evil scary dangerous people now? Or are we just more aware?
- Helmets. I am a firm believer that everyone should wear helmets for protection. And yet I practically lived on a bicycle growing up and never wore one in those days. Should I be amazed that with the spills I did take, like when I stupidly tried to dodge a bee when I was coasting down a big hill, that I did not suffer a massive brain injury?
- Seat Belts. Again, I believe these to be vitally important, and no one rides in my car without one. Yet…..oh, we spent so many hours in the family car growing up completely unharnessed. My brother and I spent many family trips, including going all the way across the country and back, hanging out in the “way back” of the station wagon, sitting looking out the back window or laying down. And miraculously, we lived to tell about it.
I’m sure you can all think of other examples. There are so many ways we painstakingly take great care to ward off danger and evils that we never even considered then when we were young. This makes me wonder what it will be like when my son is grown, when he’s a middle-aged dad. Will he get up in the morning, wake his children from their individual cryogenic chambers, give them an antibiotic with breakfast then wrap them in bubble wrap before they head to school?
And as far as food goes, oh my…. will all food have to be processed through a sterilization chamber before consumption? I’ve been seeing a growing trend of people going back to growing their own produce, shopping farmers markets, having free-range chickens for their own fresh, safe eggs — and even trying to buy “special” meat from grass-fed cows. In 30 – 40 years, will everyone give up on the convenience of processed/packaged foods and revert back to the days of growing their own food like their ancestors did?
Who knows what it will be like. Hopefully we’ll all live long enough to find out.
I imagine that some day my grandchildren will share stories with friends while sitting on a bench on their health & safety committee-approved playground and will say things like “oh yeah? Well my grandma used to play dangerous games like Jarts and Horseshoes in her backyard — and she SURVIVED.”