Safety First

by Louise

The basic — but often ignored — rules of zoo safety

The Gorilla Incident that occurred on Memorial Day Weekend caught my eye. I am a safety first person and get uncomfortable when others put themselves in dangerous situations. Though I can swim, I will heed all warnings about currents, not swimming too close to fishing piers etc.

Have you observed any dangerous behaviors? Any safety tips?

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125 thoughts on “Safety First

  1. I do not consider a zoo to be a dangerous place. These particular circumstances seem to be rare, but many people do go to the zoo with several kids. It is tough because I definitely have friends with kids that can open any door, or climb out of any crib. If you have a kid like that, and you have other kids – it can her very difficult to watch them every second.

    I generally won’t swim in the ocean when there are no lifeguards present because I’ve seen too many close calls when he lifeguard is present! I will swim in pools with no lifeguards, but the ocean is outside my comfort zone.

    I did a lot more hiking when I was much younger, and I didn’t always feel safe on some of the terrain. I once got lost with a large group on a mountain, and it was long before cell phones. We eventually got to the road, but it wasn’t fun.

    It is always going to be personal, because there are some people that consider taking the subway at all hours of the day to be risky behavior, but I feel safe in most subway situations.

  2. I am pretty forgiving of parents. Life is dangerous and things happen despite trying to be careful. One of my kids rolled down the entire flight of stairs when I was no more than 2 inches away. I don’t even know what happened and I was horrified as I watched in slow motion as his head hit the treads of each step on the way down. He was fine and he popped right up. My kids have fallen off the changing table, rolled off the couch and scaled things when I turned by back for a second. And most people who know me would say that I am a helicopter mom. There but for the grace of God…

  3. I remember chaperoning field trips and being quite anxious while watching out for my charges. In first or second grade we took the students to the Bronx Zoo, and IIRC each parent was responsible for about 4-6 kids. I was appalled that some of the other chaperones let the kids wander away from them while the parents were chatting among themselves. Maybe I’m a bit overprotective.

    So a question for the group is do you think a parent chaperone should keep their 1st grade charges in view all the time at a trip to zoo? What about kids in 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade, etc.?

  4. +1 to Kate
    this happened in a public place and there was unfortunate collateral damage, so “we” have made a bigger deal of this event.

    When DS2 was almost 5 we were in a national park. There was a split rail fence about 10′ before a BIG cliff, quite literally 1000s of feet down.. DW and I were watching the others, admiring the view, whatever. I turned an saw him midway between the fence and the cliff. I calmly (outwardly) called him to me and he came back thru the fence so all was good.

    #halloffameparenting

  5. I didn’t read the article – but I will say that 5 moms and I took our daughters together on a trip to Disneyland when the girls were 4 years old. We lost one of the girls at the end of the day – one group was returning strollers, the other group had the girls – and we each thought the other group had the missing girl. We found her after about 20 minutes – but it’s made me appreciate how quickly you can lose track of a child. It just takes a couple seconds.

  6. CoC, I can beat you – I chaperoned a preschool trip to the Bronx Zoo! The kids were 3 and 4. I had 4 to watch, including one who got tired and had to be carried for hours.

  7. When I chaperoned the 5th grade trip to see a Broadway show, I darn well kept my group of 5 in view – except when the boys had to go to the bathroom – but parked myself outside the door, and asked them all to report to me if there were any issues. I felt very responsible for those kids

  8. There is a woman who lives in the town over from me whose son drowned a few years ago during a big rain that caused a stream to sweep him away. She has a blog (and did before her son died). She talks about how she always told her kids how she and her sister would play in the rain, so when her kids asked to do so that day, she was encouraging. It is so easy to envision it happening to your own family. We usually have luck on our side, but that day they didn’t and the result was a terrible tragedy.

  9. Joseph was a saint, Mary was sinless (per Catholic teaching), and Jesus was God, but they still managed to lose him for THREE days in a crowded, dangerous city.

  10. I remember an extended family trip to the beach at Avalon (Md?) when I was a kid. My grandfather had some sort of episode of failing health so we needed to leave the beach, but it was really foggy and one of my cousins could not be found. I remember how anxious the moms were, and how clueless the rest of us kids were.

    My husband is super safety conscious when they go dirt bike riding, or on the motorcycle, or when he used to fly. Really, anything that is out of the ordinary. But he can be (in my opinion) dangerous when he’s driving and annoyed by idiots around us or doing some other routine task. Since my son is in the process of learning to drive, I have to tell him I’ll kill him if I ever find out he does something like that. It’s not often, but even occasionally is too much.

  11. I grew up in a very large city. There were areas and situations I avoided just because I was a woman. My parents were sort of free range types and though I am glad for the freedom I had, they didn’t quite get how scary it could be for a teen girl. Bad things happened to other people.
    My kids tend to listen to other adults and their teachers, so I never felt the need to chaperone any of their school trips. In fact my being there would result in a lot more asks to do this or that.

  12. [PSA: Icelandair is having a sale on fall flights to some European cities for around $500 RT. But I also checked a summer date and the price was as low as $536. The kicker — a 10-hour layover in Reykjavik.]

  13. I was at the gas dock the other day, and for some reason the pump was running really slowly, so I’m just enjoying the warm weather while watching two morons load a ski boat onto a trailer. They handled it pretty well, and the boat was about 90% of the way on the trailer and only about 18 inches from the front stop, against which it rests. For those who are unfamiliar, there are basically two ways to move the boat forward onto a trailer. One is to crank the winch that pulls the cable attached to the boat, and the other is to use the engine to thrust the whole thing forward:

    Either can be OK, but when you’re only 18″ away from the stop, and one guy is already cranking the winch and has his hands and head within inches of the front of the boat, it’s pretty damn stupid at that point to again start the engine and go almost full throttle forward because you’re too impatient to wait for it to crank the rest of the way.

    As for the late Harambe, weren’t both parents at the zoo? I’m surprised that nobody has raised a bigger fuss that every recent news report keeps repeating how the Mom won’t be charged. Prosecutors have declined to charge the mother with neglect. The mother was distracted. There’s no mention of the father at all.

  14. The kicker — a 10-hour layover in Reykjavik

    That sounds awesome. You’d have enough time to hit the Blue Lagoon before your next flight.

  15. I’m pretty trusting of other people and mostly worry about natural situations that can become dangerous. When we hike near waterfalls, I am always looking to see where my kids would go if they fell. The paths and viewing areas are usually well-designed. I took the double stroller when we went to Yellowstone when the twins were 3 1/2 because I didn’t know if there would be too-hot water/mud pots near the trails but it turned out that all the boardwalks ran only near hot (not boiling) water and all the boys were obedient about staying on the trails and boardwalks.

    I haven’t let my kids climb out on the rocks of the pier at the ocean near our house because of the drowning risk. I do let them climb on similar beach rocks where they could scrape themselves pretty badly, in contrast. I let them climb on tall evergreens by our house where they could (and have!) scraped themselves if they fall. I had a lot of holes in shirts from branches when they first started climbing.

    One of my frustrations as the mother of 3 close-in-age kids was parking lots. It makes me angry that parents can lose custody of their kids with no jury trial because a CPS bureaucrat decides that picking up a gallon of milk on a temperate day is excessively risky and that no consideration is given to the risk of taking 3 toddlers across a busy parking lot. Oregon has issues with CPS state-wide, which may or may not be tied to pressures associated with federal funding for kids in foster care.

    I understand that some kids are truly at risk, but the lack of jury trial and balance of power is poorly calibrated and not just in Oregon.

  16. It makes me angry that parents can lose custody of their kids with no jury trial because a CPS bureaucrat decides that picking up a gallon of milk on a temperate day is excessively risky and that no consideration is given to the risk of taking 3 toddlers across a busy parking lot.

    Do you have a link to that story? All I can find is parents who lost custody when one of their other children died in a hot car. And one women in AZ who left the kids in the car during a job interview.

  17. I am pretty laissez-faire about places like the science museum (I took the kids by myself and went out of their sight to go to the bathroom by myself, etc.), but not about any place outside or with overlooks/views/potential plunges to doom, like malls with 2 stories.

    WCE, I agree with you re: parking lots. I have postponed more than one trip to the store because the kids were being terrible and I couldn’t either bring them in or leave them in the car while I ran in.

  18. CoC — Whenever I chaperone filed trips, I’m constantly looking around and counting heads to make sure that I can see all the kids in my group. I worry myself sick that I’m going to lose someone. Every time I come home from one of those trips I tell myself I will never do it again (because I stress so much about it), but my kids like it when I volunteer, so I keep going back.

    Louise — My husband and I have fundamentally different views of the threats that exist the world, and I’m convinced that this is largely because he is a physically strong male (he was very athletic even as a child), and I am a very petite female. For example, he loves camping and sleeping outdoors in the wilderness. To him, that represents total freedom. To me, though, sleeping outdoors represents total vulnerability; I much prefer to have a locked door between myself and the outside world.

  19. WCE,

    Where did that article say she lost custody? It says “Child Protective Services came to her home four times, though the agency found no reason to keep the case open, she said.”

  20. There was one stage where the kids used to fight in the car. I had threatened to leave them by the side of the road. I had seen the article of the mother being charged when she left the kids at the side of the road – wasn’t going to do that but it definitely occurred to me.
    Now, the kids usually have an electronic device so they text me with annoyed emoticons when I leave them in the car and I am in the store for too long.

  21. DS was occasionally a wanderer – I think I mentioned him leaving a hotel and walking across the street to the ocean when he was tiny – but DD wasn’t, luckily. Even a few seconds of them being gone is so frightening!

    My own nit picking safety tips:
    1) don’t let kids run around the house in socks – too many chances for slips on the floor
    2) if a kid is looking over a railing, both feet must be on the ground/deck
    3) no going in the ocean or pool unless they tell me first (assuming they can swim)
    4) no floaty rings or other toys that can give a non-swimmer a sense of being able to swim
    5) if a kid is riding in the grocery cart, he has to be sitting down – you stand up – you get out
    6) if a kid is in a stroller keep the seat belt on him and don’t let him stand up and turn around!

  22. We see so many boating related poor safety choices I don’t even know where to begin. Once our boat was anchored off the beach, and we watched as a guy on a jet ski zoomed in and out of all the anchored boats, way too close to be safe. He turned to say something to his buddy, and clotheslined himself on our anchorline. Of course, he didn’t have the auto-off attachment to his jet ski (the thing you attach to your lifejacket so that if you fall off it cuts the engine), so it kept going until it finally stopped moving because no one was accelerating it. He had to swim probably 50 yards or more to it. I almost peed from laughing so hard.

  23. Rhett, I don’t know if there are examples of parents losing custody. I know in some states having a CPS investigation can go on your record and affect your background checks, etc. My point is that I’m afraid of DHS/CPS and don’t trust that they work in the interest of parents, especially “free-range” parents.

  24. When my kids were small, I was uber strict about parking lots. They still make fun of me for it. The rule was that we held hands, or (my favorite trick) we all pushed the shopping cart together. For some reason, that always kept them from darting off.

  25. “Where did that article say she lost custody?”

    Yeah. This is SO not the standard. Fear and threats are excellent mechanisms to force compliance — especially when deployed against a target audience that by and large has neither the money nor the social power to fight back. And as long as they just threaten and don’t take away custody too often, no one is going to change the law or the oversight or the management of that group to compel some version of reason.

    Look at that case: kid spends 15 minutes watching a video in an air-conditioned car with the door locked. This results in FOUR CPS visits, a guity plea, $2000 in costs, plus possibly $500 more and 3 months in jail (and that doesn’t even consider the cost of the lawyer, any time off work to manage everything, etc.). The resources devoted to this investigation, and the repercussions to the mom, are WAY disproportionate to the threat the child faced.

    Just think of all the kids out there who actually require intervention, but who don’t get it because CPS is too busy chasing air-conditioned cars in malls.

  26. I hate it when parents chat at the pool and don’t supervise their kids. It stresses me, as I feel that sometimes the kids are in real danger of drowning. The parents will occasionally look up (every 20 to 30 minutes), but it’s not nearly often enough.

  27. I’m starting to be a freak about safety with Baby Rhode. He’s quick (on two feet and all fours). And he’s figuring out how to climb.

    When we were away I had nightmares of being a statistic. He usually hung in the stroller or strapped to me, but the few times we allowed him to walk, he would throw a tantrum if he didn’t get his way. So I had to endure the stares of other people as I tried to hold onto a wiggly kid.

    Lately, when we are walking through the neighborhood and DS wanders into someone’s yard or driveway (usually to touch their car), the “go find daddy” command works to steer him back to DH and away from other people’s property.

    Boating safety – I think I’m more cautious on a boat than in a car. I think I have a bigger fear of drowning.

    Lark – we call those people flying a$$holes. There’s even a hand gesture – make an OK sign with your hand (make a ring out of your index finger and thumb) and flex your middle, ring, and pinky fingers up and down (like flapping them).

  28. “I hate it when parents chat at the pool and don’t supervise their kids.”

    I used to belong to a beach club and our best friends did this. Ages starting at about 3 and 6 — the parents would be chatting or doing their own thing while their kids would wander all around the beach. It was nerve wracking.

    “I grew up in a very large city. There were areas and situations I avoided just because I was a woman”

    I was watching Anthony Bourdain the other night and thinking about this. In various countries he wanders about checking out restaurants, sometimes in out-of-way spots and sometimes in shady looking city neighborhoods. I don’t think I’d be comfortable in some of those places.

  29. Don’t turn your back on the ocean.

    And when visiting here — please don’t decide to swim in the blowhole. Please don’t.

    Also, be aware that if rocks near the ocean are wet, that means waves will break there, even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment.

    In general, I think our society has a problem of too many people too unfamiliar with natural dangers who assume that any place they’re visiting is like Disneyland, made to look cool but with all the actual danger carefully engineered away. (Mostly; even Disney has had occasional deaths.)

    So who’s read Death at Yellowstone or Death at the Grand Canyon? We read only the former before our trip last summer. When we were at the Grand Canyon I told my oldest he could hike the rim trail back from Hermit’s Rest to the village on his own as the rest of us wanted to hike only a section of it and take the shuttle the rest of the way, having just done a hike partway down into the canyon. Then when the rest of us were doing our segment of the rim trail, I realized how close to the cliff edge it is in places, and got very nervous. However my son just laughed at me when he heard about it later, as it turned out he did in fact have enough common sense to be careful on a path running next to a big cliff.

  30. “It was nerve wracking.” Meanwhile I was nervous Nellie who couldn’t concentrate on reading at the beach because my eyes had to constantly scan the water for my kids.

    “So who’s read Death at Yellowstone or Death at the Grand Canyon?”

    I read Death at Big Bend while I was at Big Bend. Fascinating stuff.

  31. In various countries he wanders about checking out restaurants, sometimes in out-of-way spots and sometimes in shady looking city neighborhoods. I don’t think I’d be comfortable in some of those places.

    He does have a camera crew along, which helps. I’m sure you’d feel more comfortable if you had a crew of guys tagging along with you. As far as traveling without a camera crew, I think that sometimes the big young guys are over-confident that they can go anywhere. They’re seldom as tough as they think they are, and they can still get rolled.

  32. Have you ever left your child alone in a car while running an errand? (From the link that WCE posted).

    My answer is not until age eight. My community is (I don’t think) over eager to call 911 when they see a kid alone in a car (depending on age). But still I want to avoid trouble.
    Pools – I prefer the Y pools because the lifeguards do a good job of being alert and cautioning both children and parents. It can be a fun sucker but there are kids of all ages and parents looking after more than one kid, so having lifeguards enforce pool rules in great.

  33. “if a kid is riding in the grocery cart, he has to be sitting down – you stand up – you get out”

    That was my rule too, and it was common practice in my Totebag northern Virginia community. But not the case where we live now. When I walk past those carts, I have to stop myself from reaching over and pushing the kid back down on his bottom.

    When my kids were little, we used to take them to an amazing playground with very tall tunnel slides. They loved it and so did I because it only took one or two trips on my lap to convince them it was fun and then they could go on their own because they can’t fall off a tunnel slide with a cage at the top. But the county decided otherwise, and closed the two best slides. Ditto for “the park with tall swings” we used to visit in Falls Church, and the awesome tunnel slides at Cabin John Regional Park in Montgomery County, Maryland (ground zero for Totebaggers). The Cabin John Park slides even had warning signs making them off-limits to kids under 7 (which we violated, but only after intense conversations about mom knowing better than the signs about which slides were safe for 5-year olds).

    The older kids were very risk-averse around water, but because the youngest assumed that he could swim from birth, he had to be watched like a hawk until could swim across the pool. Falling in a few times did not seem to faze him. We have a pool in our current house, but there is no way I would have had one when they were little. I never would have relaxed all summer.

  34. I’ve left my 8 year old in the car but usually only when I’m running in somewhere and I can see the car. The younger two never unless I am right outside and only going in for less than one minute. I am vigilant with kids swimming. My husband saw a little girl almost drown at the Y during my son’s swim lesson a few weeks ago. The instructor was working with another child and the lifeguards had taken their eyes away for a few seconds and the little girl slipped into the pool. The mom came running out and alerted everyone but it was very lucky the mom was watching so closely. A little girl drowned a few years ago here at a country club on opening night. There was a lifeguard but it was chaotic.

    W/the zoo thing I think parents need to watch their children more carefully. I don’t go on many field trips because it just stresses me out watching other people’s kid. My kids don’t have food allergies but in reading that article the other day about the man in Mass. suing Panera for putting peanut butter on his daughter’s grilled cheese, I tend to think the parents were the ones that needed to be more vigilant.

  35. “So who’s read Death at Yellowstone or Death at the Grand Canyon?”

    I saw those books at the store in YNP. Almost bought it. Then realized I’d never let go of anyone in my party. Even though we took the tamest route when it comes to visiting YNP. No intense hiking and basically stayed within site of the road or on clearly defined boardwalks.

  36. Reading this post makes me realize I’m incredibly laissez faire compared to most of you. Anytime someone tells me something that sounds worrisome, I research it and realize it’s less dangerous than driving to work. The most recent was the ISIS arrests last week in the city of Mr WCE’s conference.

  37. A family my brother knows had a child die in a shallow ornamental pond in their garden (this family had watched my similar age niece and nephew regularly after school). Till this happened, I don’t think it occurred to anyone that any of the kids would be endangered by this.

  38. Just think of all the kids out there who actually require intervention, but who don’t get it because CPS is too busy chasing air-conditioned cars in malls.

    So much easier and less dangerous to chase air-conditioned cars rather than helping kids who are genuinely at risk in violent homes.

  39. “In general, I think our society has a problem of too many people too unfamiliar with natural dangers who assume that any place they’re visiting is like Disneyland”

    ITA with this.

  40. It will not surprise anyone that I am the mom on the playground who will walk over and tell someone else’s child to stop hanging off the outside of the equipment on the pre-k playground (when their feet are over six feet off the ground). I then tell the kid that while it is usually okay to fall from a distance equal to your own height, once you are more than six feet up your skull is not designed for that kind of fall and you can be seriously hurt.

    One parent gave me the look and I suggested she read the CPSC manual on playground design and injury and fatality rates. It’s quite fascinating, and based on actual statistics.

    (WCE, these are kids who are playing on equipment directly over the heads of the toddlers in a toddler area, not off climbing their own trees :) )

    And I don’t read at the beach with the kids. Ever.

    Drowning and head injuries I worry about, gorillas at the zoo not so much.

  41. “And since many people have mobile phones, they think help is only a phone call away and it gives a false sense of security.”

    Count me as that person… until I went to YNP. I’ve never spent so much time out of cell range. I wondered what people did to get Park Rangers’ attentions if they are out of range and in need of help. I wondered if hikers carry walkie-talkies with them and if they have the range to at least send a may-day to the nearest Ranger Station. It was something we always carried on the boat, and were taught how to make proper calls to get help, even though we were always in sight of land.

  42. A whistle is what hikers carry to get the attention of park rangers, or more likely other hikers who then can go get a ranger if help is needed.

  43. When DH and I first started riding bikes way back in the day, we always wore a helmet. Always. We knew two grown men who had had serious head injuries from bike falls in the 1990’s — one of them a 60-something partner at my firm who had to take early retirement because he could not function as an attorney — and that put the fear of God in us. When our kids started riding, helmets were non-negotiable, which was not really a problem because EVERYONE in the DC area wore helmets. We noticed on our international travels that helmets are almost nonexistent, and they are much less common here in smaller-city flyover country. Lots of students ride bikes, both on and off campus, and helmets are exceedingly rare (though lots of professor types wear them). Are they no longer a thing?

  44. Everyone around me wears helmets for bicycles and scooters. I started using one when I got my new bike.

  45. And skiing! Even with the helmets, I have know a couple guys who have gotten serious head injuries while skiing. My husband is no longer permitted to do crazy skiing (per his insurer and his wife).

  46. When I was little, a girl in my Sunday school class was disabled and I was told it was because she fell out of a shopping cart. I don’t think I ever asked to sit in a shopping cart again.

    I watched my friends’ kids at the pool the other day. The 9 yo can swim. The 5 yo knew to stay in the shallow end, but I was watching him. He got on a float with another little girl then the girl took the float away and he was in the middle of the pool, far from the edges, and started to panic. I got in the pool to get him right away. The lifeguard was distracted with blowing her whistle to end the free swim time.

  47. Scarlett, I just went on a bike tour in New Orleans (fun!) where helmets are optional. I was the only one who wore one. Safety third.

  48. People who spend much time without cell coverage and want to be able to summon assistance carry satellite trackers/communication devices. Mr WCE got one when his heart was in afibrillation and he wanted to go hunting by himself. Now that we have a satellite device, we will probably activate it whenever we spend much time off-grid.

  49. “In general, I think our society has a problem of too many people too unfamiliar with natural dangers who assume that any place they’re visiting is like Disneyland”

    Yes, totally. I grew up in a family that did extensive backpacking trips in pretty wild places, so I learned to have respect for the dangers. People get lost in national parks, and it can ber very hard to find them. Did anyone see that story about the middle aged lady who died while hiking the Appalachian Trail up in Maine? She went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, got disorientefd and lost in the dark, and even though people went searching the very next day, no one ever found her – until this past week, several years later. Of course she was quite dead.

    A few years ago, we got together with a bunch of families at Smoky Mountain National Park. The other moms were really suprised when I wouldn’t let my 11 year old go off with a bunch of other kids into the woods off the trail we were on. I was taught as a kid backpacking out west to always stay on the trail, and not to go off alone. I know the Smokies are not as wild as the places I hiked out west, but kids get lost even in small state parks (that happened a bunch of times when we lived in MA)

  50. Just on Saturday, two of my high school buddies were doing the Sequoia Century bike ride, and they came across a third high school buddy who had fallen and hit his head so hard that the helmet cracked and his head was bleeding profusely. He got taken to Stanford Hospital and I don’t know how’s he’s doing. My friend said, “We stopped to help this guy and it turned out to be Jeff. We were like, ‘Jeff! Long time no see! Let’s catch up after you get out of the ICU.'”

  51. Some of the things we do for safety don’t work, and may make things more dangerous – helmets for skiing (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/sports/on-slopes-rise-in-helmet-use-but-no-decline-in-brain-injuries.html?_r=0), 9 year olds in the back seat (I’ve cited this before), sliding down the slide behind our kids (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/a-surprising-risk-for-toddlers-at-playground-slides/)

    I’m pretty laissez-faire on most things. I guess the really bad things that have happened to me (and many that I have witnessed) have come like lightning bolts from a blue sky – I don’t feel like more worrying or vigilance could have prevented them. This includes the life-threatening illness that hospitalized my daughter for a month.

    We are slowly getting into bike helmets. (I don’t think toddlers moving at walking speed and at a walking height need a helmet – but that requires some nuance that no one is willing to allow.) Now that they are riding near cars, and at risk of riding faster than they walk, they need helmets.

    I am terrified of car v ped accidents and am super vigilant in parking lots and street crossings. I also worry about falling out of windows. The new house has all the kids on the second story. We also had to replace the windows so that they were adequate for egress – meaning now they are large, low to the ground and easy for kids to fall out of.

  52. I’ll come out of the closet as the poster who had the CPS referral (about 18 months ago). I started to write a post on it, but it was hard to distill into some meaningful story – it all felt so random and unresolved.

    Here’s the story –

    Over a school break, my daughter got a small cut on her temple (the entertainment center came through unscathed). It was big enough that it needed closure and I took a bit of glue and fixed her right up.

    Snowflake was concerned that one of the boys at school was going to make fun of her for having a cut on her face. We talked about what might happen a dozen times over the next few days. We talked about ignoring him, walking away, telling him it’s not his business. We roleplayed. I embraced her concerns and worked through them with her. (This is where I blame modern parenting, and totebagginess – my own parents would have told me to shut up and stop worrying).

    The boy didn’t notice. It fell off the radar and I didn’t think to ask if anyone else said anything about it on Tuesday. I found out later that her teacher had asked her what had happened and she responded, “I am not supposed to talk about that.” (Allegedly. I suspect she actually said, “I don’t have to talk about that” or “I don’t want to…”). This generated a report to CPS.

    I was traveling for work, and arrived to find a notification in my email that a report had been filed, my child had already been removed from class to be interviewed, and I would need to arrange a time for a home visit and interview. The email also stated that they were not going to immediately remove my children from the house. My first reaction was to laugh – the whole situation was ridiculous and so easily explained.

    I really didn’t worry that my children could be taken from me – I have been close enough to actual abuse cases that I realize what a gigantic undertaking that is and that it is reserved for parents that clearly abuse their children and are unwilling to work out a solution.

    It was a two month process to reach the conclusion that the claim was “unfounded” (best possible outcome). I’ll have a record for 7 years. Interestingly, though my daughter’s last name is not mine, the case file had my last name on it. This infuriates me. There were three adults present when it happened, there are three adults that live in the home. Why did I default as the responsible party?

  53. I am sorry Ada. That is terrible.

    And the mom is always to blame. Even if she isn’t there. It infuriates me.

  54. Oh, just to share all my transgressions – I do leave my kids in the car. I only do it when I can see them (at a strip mall or preschool drop off). I appreciate my tinted windows for this – unless my kids were screaming, no one knows they are there.

  55. Thank you for the sympathy. This blog was really supportive when I was in the thick of things. I also remember getting some good advice about navigating the system. It’s far enough away, at this point, that it has almost reached “funny little anecdote” status.

  56. Wow Ada – I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Was that at the old school?

    In Atlanta Public Schools, or at least our particular one, you get a visit from a social worker if your child is absent for more than six days (school gets $ for every kid that is not absent for more than six days). We haven’t had it happen but I have friends who have. It just seems like a huge waste of resources. We did get a warning notice when my child had been absent for 3 days over the course of the school year (and this was about two thirds of the way through the year, which seems to be a normal amount of sick days to me).

  57. “I don’t think toddlers moving at walking speed and at a walking height need a helmet – but that requires some nuance that no one is willing to allow.”

    I never made DS wear a helmet when he was on a tricycle or on a small bike with training wheels. He was going so slow, he was so close to the ground, and he was nowhere near traffic. It didn’t seem necessary. Now that he is zipping around & crossing streets on a big kid bike – the helmet is non-negotiable. I try to wear a helmet every time I bike, but I admit that I have occasionally grabbed a bike share bike without one. I see a lot of people on bike share bikes without helmets, but not tons of people riding their own bikes.

    I think that I am somewhere in the middle when it comes to being helicopter/laissez faire, but I don’t know. My kid is not a natural daredevil, although he is high-energy.

  58. Thanks for sharing Ada. I was intrigued when you originally told your story, and now knowing it was you I’m speechless. I can only imagine how irritating it must have been to deal with the system, when you’ve no doubt encountered truly at-risk children. I’m still really surprised that the teacher jumped to CPS first, instead of calling you.

    Your story is a good reminder that sometimes when telling our kids how to deal with a problem we are clear who the audience will be. “When talking to your classmates say this…, but if the teacher/adult asks it is okay to tell them the full story.”

  59. Wow Ada – I posted before your second post. You must be so relieved to have that behind you (at least mostly). I think it is BS that the mother is the one automatically put on the official file!!

  60. That is incredibly disturbing, Ada. What a thing for you to be put through. But thank you so much for sharing. Very eye-opening.

  61. Wow Ada, that’s crazy. I had a couple of those incidents taking my tough little daughter to after-hours care with injuries. Twice they pulled my husband and I out of the room, interviewing each of us and my daughter separately about what happened, but fortunately pediatricians and nurses were sane, rational people and didn’t raise any flags. Even confident that I’ve done no wrong, having CPS in my life would cause me a lot of anxiety.

  62. Ada, that is terrible. Seven years is absurd.
    Wondering whether being a medical professional hurt you here — if you had taken her to the ER for stitches, where both you and DD would have given a completely normal explanation of the cause of her injury, would there still have been a CPS referral?

  63. Re: bike helmets, I frequently see elementary school kids on their way to and from school with their helmets hanging by the strap from their handlebars. Obviously their parents make them take their helmet, but they may need tone more clear about actually wearing it, strapped.

  64. Ada,

    “I am not supposed to talk about that.”

    As a mandatory reporter how would you respond to such a statement? I guess it’s not suspicious as (from personal experience) a kid will get some intensive coaching on what story to tell the authorities. I guess no abusive parent is going to coach them to say that.

  65. Rhett- I agree that it absolutely deserves a follow up question, but not a formal report. From what I can tell from the report (and my own interview with an unreliable kindergartner), there was no follow up question. In our situation, I think it was really that DD was embarrassed – she is really easy to engage in conversation about anything.

    Some ideas: “Really? Who told you that?” “Why aren’t you supposed to talk about it?” “Oh, is it a secret? Or are you embarrassed?” “You don’t need to tell everyone about it, but it is important that we talk about it.” “Is that because someone hurt you?”

    We had a well-child check a week or two after the report. I talked with the pediatrician about the situation privately, because I wanted her to document the (nearly healed) injury and make her aware that she might be contacted. She went into the room with my daughter and said, “what happened there?” and my daughter said, “I don’t like to talk about it.” She came right back with, “I’m your doctor, so it is important that you tell me what happened so I can take care of you.” Then DD gave the whole story. The ped wrote the whole thing up and was really supportive. She was also somewhat enraged, as she says she can not get CPS to follow up on a lot of her concerns.

  66. I’m very paranoid about SIDS and safe sleep. It’s interesting to me that more parents aren’t actually. Especially since it kills an order of magnitudes more babies than things people worry more about, like choking hazards and car accidents. But people are bad at judging risk. We follow every single safe sleep recommendation, even though MIL and other people try to insist the baby would sleep better on the tummy, with blankets, etc.

    Co sleeping in particular scares me, even though it would be so much easier. An acquaintance lost a baby in a bedsharing accident (rolled over and the newborn suffocated) and despite that people in our circle of friends continue to put their babies in their bed and insist that it’s totally safe.

  67. Ada, I’m so sorry that happened to you. And kind of stunned at how that all went down. The fact that you have a “record” from that non-incident is really messed up.

    I had to go to a child abuse training session recently for my church and some of the “signs of abuse” that you should report were preposterous, IMO. Like children waiting in a car (even with no heat concerns) or playing at a park unsupervised. They were talking about gradeschool kids!

  68. Another random safety thing- 2 acquaintances recently had ER trips with their toddlers from swallowing button batteries. One was totally fine, the other nearly died an will have lifelong injuries. It is scary how quickly these kind of things can happen and how many random dangers there are.

  69. Ada – sorry to hear how the whole incident went down.

    My kids go to religious school, so before you volunteer or chaperone you have to go through a background check as well as a course on protecting children. The background check has to be redone every five years. When DH felt like chaperoning, he couldn’t just sign up. All the requirements had to be completed first.

  70. Rio – in home country culture, co sleeping with your baby is the norm. However, they don’t have the high beds or amount of bed linen that we do. I had also not heard of putting infants on their back. Babies who turned over on their tummies were allowed to sleep that way.

  71. Louise- I was told that if they roll onto their tummy, you can keep them that way, but you are always supposed to put them down on their back until age 1. Whereas my parents’ generation was told to put babies to sleep on their sides or tummies in case of spit up. Regarding co-sleeping around the world, my understanding is that the risks are much lower in many of those settings because Western mattresses are soft, high, full of blankets and pillows, beds are entrapment risks, etc. In cultures where the mother and baby share a firm mat on the floor, most of those risks are absent.

  72. Ada, that’s ridiculous. More evidence of the death of common sense.

  73. Ada, I’m surprised you missed the nuance in the ski helmet article.

    Experts say helmets have reduced the numbers of less serious head injuries, like scalp lacerations, by 30 percent to 50 percent, and Schumacher’s doctors say he would not have survived his fall had he not worn a helmet.

    The article also says that skiers and snowboarders are engaging in riser behavior than they used to which is contributing to the increase in head injuries. Helmets are preventing injuries on the slopes. If people weren’t wearing them, there would be a lot more serious injuries.

  74. Rio, when I had my baby with the brain abnormality, the genetic counselor noted that a lot of deaths of babies with brain abnormalities are counted as SIDS when there is no other obvious cause of death. I have coslept with all my kids because I see no reason why SIDS deaths should be so “high” in the US and not in other countries, if cosleeping is really a significant factor in SIDS deaths, vs. how the US chooses to categorize unexplained infant deaths. The US also has high rates of parents with drug addiction which, along with epilepsy, is a factor in SIDS deaths because those parents don’t awaken appropriately.

    In short, have a healthy skepticism of American SIDS statistics.

  75. I think a lot of the confusion here stems from the fact that a lot of infant suffocation deaths get classified as SIDS, which they are not. My 2 doctor siblings think true SIDS is very rare and mostly not preventable. Not sure if their viewpoint is mainstream. With my 2 older kids, I religiously followed the guidelines. Then I had a baby who would not sleep unless she was with me. Would not. So, I had to make some adjustments.

  76. We did modified co sleeping with our two newborns. With DS1, we slept on a futon on a very low platform, and DS1 slept in a bassinet next to us. That made nighttime nursing easy, and it was easy to just plop him back in. With DS2, we got one of those attached co-sleepers which worked really well. Several of my friends had used them. DD of course was well beyond that stage and we had other worries such as the fact she had been fed probably contaminated formula for 10 months (China was in the midst of a massive formula contamination scandal then).

    On my due date group when I was pregnant with DS2, there were 3 women, out of 25 of us, who had lost prior babies to SIDs. In all cases, the baby was sleeping on his or her back in a properly set up crib. So you just never know.

  77. Others have noted that Europeans rarely wear helmets, and that is very true. However, in countries like Germany and the Netherlands where cycling is very common, kids are taught to ride responsibly from an early age. When we lived in Germany, we all commuted to school by bike (no school buses). We used hand signals, stopped at the stop signs, gave pedestrians in the crosswalks right of way, had working lights on our bikes, and knew when to use the bell. It is really different here. Tonight, I was driving down a very busy multilane road when suddenly a kid, who had been riding breakneck down the sidewalk, suddenly lept his bike into the road and proceeded to cut across all lanes of traffic. He was properly wearing a helmet at least :-)

  78. Bike helmets…non-negotiable. In 1999 I went over the handlebars and broke my fall with my head, shoulder (some pain since then). Two broken bones (clavicle and boxer’s bone). My Giro helmet probably saved my life or at least prevented me from being a vegetable. I will gladly shill for them for the rest of my life.

    Ada, I’m sorry for your troubles.

    A friend was recently plowed into/run over by a car in Chicago when she was out for her run. Something like 12 surgeries to fix things. She’s now back at work part time. Vehicles win in that situation.

  79. My kid’s wear bike helmets even while riding their scooters. However, not all families enforce helmet usage. We had a bunch of skateboarding kids who did not, wear helmets for a long time. Here, we have swings hung from trees, in many of the neighbor yards. When kids are swinging under their own power they don’t go too high but when they are pushed, they do. Lots of low level falls trying to get on or off, bruises etc. I am surprised there haven’t been more serious injuries.

    With my first kid, I followed all the rules. Looking back, he was one of those who was a co sleeping kind. We would wait for him to fall fast asleep and then transfer him to his crib, hoping that he wouldn’t wake up in the process. With my second kid, I was exhausted from having a toddler, a baby and a job. I co slept with her out of convenience but she was fine sleeping on her own.
    Now, it’s the waking, not the sleeping that is the hard part.

  80. Ada, thank you for sharing and I’m sorry you had to endure that. More than reading news stories about kids left in cars or walking home alone, your story makes me understand how these cases go awry. I don’t think I know anyone who has gone through something similar.

    I never see kids climbing trees these days. My cousin and I were recently reminiscing about when we were kids climbing trees and how a branch broke causing her to fall into our neighbor’s yard full of dogs. We would climb up on high branches and hang upside down. These days I don’t even like riding a bike because of the horrible injuries I’ve heard about.

  81. Coc – one reason for no tree climbing is probably landscaped trees. All the big trees in our yards have their bottom branches cut, so kids can’t really climb them. Then the city also puts some type of sticky wrap around trees to prevent worms so there’s that. We do have swings, zip lines and those bouncy balance lines between trees. It is a good childhood but manicured in some ways.

  82. Sorry, Ada. Glad it ended as well as it could have.

    We are fighting the helmet wars with DS, who has gotten into the scooter and is old enough to want to be cool. I have repeatedly explained that I am not worried about him (although of course I am), I am worried about the car that doesn’t see him when he is crossing the street or a driveway. But now the boy is suffering the consequences of being an idjit: this weekend, he asked me if he could go to X’s house, I said sure; then he asked me if he could ride his scooter, and I said no, because he was giving me a hard time about his helmet, and so I couldn’t be sure he’d wear it.

    I am a convert to ski helmets after my big fall a few years ago, which was followed a couple of weeks later by Natasha Richardson’s death and the realization that my fall was *much* more dangerous than hers. I don’t expect my helmet to protect me from all injuries, just like drivers still die in NASCAR races despite all of their safety gear, and bikers still die when they are hit by cars even when they are wearing helmets. OTOH, I’m not an idjit, I ski within my abilities, and the helmet is not going to induce me to ski faster/more recklessly out of a false sense of security. So at worst, it was a waste of $60; at best, it has a pretty reasonable chance of turning a potential concussion into a non-event.

    I know I am one of the “is this the best marginal use of that dollar” people. But the value of that marginal dollar is also relative. E.g., I am not at all sure that booster seats for 8-year-olds are more value than, say, a vaccination or a dental checkup for a family that can afford only one or the other. OTOH, if you can afford thousands of dollars to take a vacation where you voluntarily expose yourself to trees and rocks at a relatively high rate of speed, $5/day for a rental (or $60 for your own) seems like pretty cheap insurance.

  83. CoC- my oldest used to climb trees! There is a playground in the town just north of us that has several very climbable trees and he would often climb rather than play on the official equipment.

  84. When I was in grad school, I had a bad bike crash (car turned right into a driveway, right on top of me – stupid driver claimed she never saw me), and was wearing a helmet so no head injuries. I did get strapped to a backboard and then spent 5 hours in the ER being ignored, still strapped in. It was a teeny rural hospital, and evidently a heart attack came in at the same time and they couldn’t handle both. I was OK though – just lots of bad bruises so I hobbled for a while. The poor bike though….

  85. Until this winter, I hadn’t been skiing in years, so it was my first time wearing a helmet on the slopes. I actually preferred it to a hat; it breathes well, and it’s a superior configuration for holding your goggles.

    Our upstairs AC broke a couple days ago. Now that the new part is in, it should be repaired today. Sunday and Monday nights, I set up some fans in the foyer to blow cool air upstairs, with limited success. But yesterday evening it was so cool and pleasant outside, I got a little MMM’ish and fished a couple of screens out of the basement and installed them in our bedroom, with the fans blowing outward, and a downstairs window opened to the screened porch. It was awesome. It was like a New England summer evening.

  86. Our kids always protested at sunscreen, and when they were old enough to manage on their own, they were not nearly as diligent as I was. Youngest DS is working outdoors this summer, and though I supplied him with sunscreen spray, he has to make his own decisions about nuisance vs. sunburn. (Young men don’t care about skin cancer or wrinkles that won’t show up for decades.) When they were little, I told them that THEIR kids wouldn’t have to bother with sunscreen because surely there would be a sunscreen pill by then, but that has not come to pass. I know parents of younger kids for whom copious amounts of sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved garb are non-negotiable when exposed to the sun, but wondering how well that approach works long-term as the kids get older. We visited Australia during their winter, but even then the school kids we saw on the playground and at the zoo all had hats as part of their uniform, and my Australian friends confirmed that public health programs to decrease skin cancer rates had been very effective, and that the kids didn’t balk at hats because they were kind of like seat belts. Totebaggers whose kids are still shorter than you — do you have battles over sun safety?

  87. We don’t have battles over helmets or sunscreen with the kids–they have drunk the Totebag Kool-Aid and are very familiar with our community’s “rules”.

    DH has transitioned to ski helmets, not for safety, but for warmth. Whatever works.

  88. “We always wore a helmet.”

    Not to pick on Scarlett, but the image of her and her DH somehow wearing a single helmet made me LOL.

  89. The times that we have forgotten sunscreen (usually earlier in the summer) the burn has been felt, inspite of our darker skins – so sunscreen is slathered on. Their clothes and bathing suits cover a lot of skin – that helps too.

  90. I got a little MMM’ish and fished a couple of screens out of the basement and installed them in our bedroom

    You don’t normally have screens on your windows?

  91. WRT bike helmets, what I find galling is the attitude so many people seem to have that bike safety starts and ends with wearing helmets.

    I don’t know of a single case in which a cyclist avoided a crash because he or she was wearing a helmet.

    I believe there was a study done in Australia a while back that concluded that many cyclists rode more dangerously when wearing helmets, offsetting the reduced levels of injury due to the helmets.

  92. Our kids wear bike helmets without complaint. It’s been a rule from day 1. DW and I always wear them as well. Sunscreen is a requirement at our altitude. The kids won’t put it on voluntarily but they never argue when we tell them to use it.

    On the bike safety, it’s not just kids who are clueless. I can’t tell you how many times I come across groups of cyclists riding 3 and 4 abreast on roads with barely any shoulders.

  93. “Totebaggers whose kids are still shorter than you — do you have battles over sun safety?”

    Yes – DS hates putting sunscreen on, but since he is 8, it is more of a whining/complaining kind of fight. He’s not old enough to really refuse or defy us because I actually apply it to him in the morning. Reapplications probably don’t really happen if he is supposed to do it himself at summer school/camp. He actually has a little bit of a tan this year already for the first time ever. I am not overly concerned about it – I am mostly concerned with preventing the painful and damaging sunburns that I got at least once a year from the time I was a toddler until the time I was in my 20’s. We are a pale-skinned bunch. I did manage to freak him out by describing my brother & I peeling the sunburned, blistered skin off of each other’s backs when we were kids. He deemed that “disgusting”.

    +1 to Kate about having to make the decision between a baby getting ANY significant sleep and following the wisdom of the time to the letter. He would NOT sleep in his crib until he was 4 months old and even then it was a battle to get him down. As a newborn, he went through stages where he would only sleep while actually physically touching me. I slept partially sitting up in a recliner for some shifts, we coslept sometimes (often when I would pass out from exhaustion while nursing in bed), he slept in his car seat (which is also a big no-no IFRC), and I’m sure many other trasngressions. I don’t remember the recco being to put baby down on his back until 1 – I thought it was just until they could roll themselves. It’s probably changed.

  94. Houston, we’ve also found the best part about ski helmets is warmth.

    Milo, although until recently I rarely wore goggles to ski (typically I wore a baseball cap, turned backwards while skiing and forwards on the lifts and in lift lines, and Vuarnets), I never had any problem with goggles staying in place.

  95. RMS, I’ve ridden the Sequoia Century a few times, although more than a couple decades ago.

  96. he slept in his car seat (which is also a big no-no IFRC)

    Uh oh, really? DSS simply wouldn’t sleep sometimes unless he was in a moving car. We routinely put him in the car and drove around til he fell asleep. Unfortunately he and DH share this quality; it’s very difficult for them to stay awake in the car even when they’re driving. DH has finally agreed to try not to drive in the early afternoon, because his neurology is such that he simply conks out. Sometimes he has to drive then, but usually he can schedule things so he doesn’t have to. If we’re traveling together I always take the after-lunch driving shift.

  97. “You don’t normally have screens on your windows?”

    No, as we don’t normally open them. DW has some mild seasonal allergies, and by the time pollen is over, it’s not too long until it’s usually hot and humid.

    That’s why I love the screened porch, for my daily dose of indoor/outdoor time, and why, when I get my yacht, a flying bridge is non-negotiable.

  98. Wow, not opening windows would feel so strange to me. I love having the breeze come through the house. We all have seasonal allergies too!

  99. My kids all slept in their cribs from the beginning but I agree with Kate’s dr. brothers and think that true SIDS is largely unpreventable. I was religious about the no blankets/pillows until 1 and our ped said as soon as they could roll over on their own don’t worry about which way to put them down to sleep. My kids all rolled around 3 or 4 months and slept on their stomachs going forward. One of our friends had a baby who needed a helmet because his head was so misshapen from always sleeping the same way on his back (he had some other issue that also caused him to only sleep with his head turned one way).

  100. Like Milo, we have a very short window (ha!) for screens in the spring. We had a few installed in our bedroom because none of the windows in our house had them when we moved in. I remember a lot of miserable nights growing up with windows open and just a fan – it was so hot and uncomfortable so I really appreciate AC.

  101. I also fall asleep easily in a moving car, and it can be very scary trying to stay awake while driving. This is the main reason I hate driving so much. I can’t avoid it though. I had to go to a conference recently that was a 5 hour drive away – it was at a college in upstate NY so no other transit – and I was petrified – how was I going to get there without falling asleep at the wheel? Thankfully one of my colleagues decided to ride with me.
    My BIL also has this problem and totalled a car last year when he fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a pole

  102. IFRC, it’s okay if they sleep in the car, but they are not supposed to stay in the car seat. I think it’s the same thing with swings and rock & play chairs and all that. He slept in all of those because the tight sides and the slightly upright position seemed to be the only way that he would sleep for a period of time. It’s something that I ignored due to having a terrible sleeper, but felt incredibly guilty about at the time. I felt unnecessarily guilty about a lot of things at the baby stage – it’s probably my biggest regret of the first year. The exhaustion mixed with the guilt was a bad combination that was probably worse than any of the “bad” things that we actually did.

    http://www.parents.com/blogs/parents-news-now/2015/04/24/parenting-news/why-you-shouldnt-let-your-baby-sleep-in-a-car-seat-swing-or-bouncer/

  103. My parents used to think of themselves as frugal Yankees, and I suffered through many mid-Atlantic summer days and nights of heat and humidity because they “loved the fresh air.” I was the only, and I mean the ONLY kid I knew whose house had the windows open during much of the summer. Now, if there was a particular heat wave, they’d break down and turn on the A/C. I remember my Dad coming into my room some mornings before leaving for work because he was making the rounds and closing the windows saying “yeah, it’s going to be REALLY hot today, so we’ll use the AC.” And I thought “Praise God!”

  104. RMS – I think the issue with car seat sleeping for tiny babies is that it can cut off their airway at certain angles. Preemies have to do a car seat challenge that lasts a couple hours to see if they can maintain their oxygen supply while in a car seat before they get discharged. If they fail, they either don’t get discharged or get a car seat bed.

    But good luck preventing a baby from sleeping in a car seat! I think the recommendations are often aspirational at best and we might be better served by less strict standards, as people tend to become fatigued when there are so many rules, some of which are impossible to meet.

  105. “One of our friends had a baby who needed a helmet because his head was so misshapen from always sleeping the same way on his back (he had some other issue that also caused him to only sleep with his head turned one way).”

    Helmets are more common now because of the “back to sleep” movement. DS almost needed one because he slept so much and wouldn’t stay on his stomach at all. I think my nephews should have gotten them, but their heads seem in better shape now.

    We ignored that blanket rule once DS figured out he could roll around (about 10 months old – very late on a lot of gross motor skills). He was already removing fabric from his face (like playing peekaboo) Now he won’t go to sleep without his blanket, and routinely covers his head with it. I have a great picture of him on the way back to Boise from the Grand Tetons with his blanket over his head in the car seat. All you see are these little feet sticking out.

    Sunscreen – takes 2 of us to apply it to DS. One to hold him, and one to lather. And he hates hats this summer. I even bought him an adorable fedora and he throws it off.

  106. “But where they sleep is even more important than how much they sleep”

    Said no one ever anywhere who has ever had an infant.

  107. Sunscreen – my kids have seen me and other family members undergoing Aldera treatment for pre-cancerous skin issues. It basically turned me into a hideous leper as my skin reacted horribly to it. When they asked if it hurt, I explained that it didn’t hurt so much as feel like 1000 fire ants were on my skin. They’re much more diligent about sun protection than I ever was at their age.

  108. I’ve heard that true SIDS may be unpreventable, but that many deaths classified as “SIDS” are really due to suffocation but some coroners are hesitant to “blame” grieving parents and standards are inconsistent in classifying this in different places. These deaths are so tragic no matter how they occur.

    I hear you on the guilt, Ivy. It is tough to balance best practices for safety with what actually works in the real world.

  109. Humble And Kind

    When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
    Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
    Let that summer sun shine
    Always stay humble and kind

  110. Some sunscreen suggestions are that my kids like to do their own faces with the applicators that use the same plastic housing as school glue sticks, and recently they’ve discovered (from DW’s cousin) what I think is the Coppertone brand that smells like sweetened coconut, or something like that. DW got it at Target. But I can still buy the bulk packages with a coupon from Costco for large applications.

    The kids are fine. If anyone needs to do a better job using sunscreen, it’s my parents. I think all the kayaking at their beach house is aging them rapidly, because they’re inconsistent users. Even though my Mom makes a big point of putting the cosmetic kind all over her face, I don’t think this translates to the arms. And with my Dad, you can hand it to him and he’ll say “Oh yeah, good idea.”

    It’s like when I was a kid riding in the back of my grandparents’ Oldsmobile and saying “Why aren’t you guys wearing your seatbelts?” and they’d say “Oh yeah, good idea.”

  111. Scarlett, I just had to wrestle the 2 yo to get sunscreen on him – he hates it. I’m good but not great about remembering it, because my kids are much darker due to their mixed heritage and have never burned even when I forget.

    I ignored every co-sleeping rule except the “don’t do it drugged or drunk” rule. It wasn’t intentional, I just passed out from exhaustion while the baby was in the swing/in my arms on the couch/nursing in my bed. All of them are still here, fortunately.

  112. I make the kids put on sunscreen. They don’t really complain. #1 child even reapplied yesterday at their field day! Milo, we have a ton of those sticks of sunscreen (glue stick style) from Wegman’s – it is much easier to apply on the face and neck than the regular lotion kind with squirmy kids. They are quite pale and #2, especially, burns right away without it.

    I do worry about DH – he rarely puts it on his neck and gets burned very easily. :(

  113. We use sunscreen if we’re in the sun more than about an hour, but given that I thought the UV index was a 1-2-3 scale for a long time, I’m not convinced the risks of moderate sun exposure outweigh the benefits (relaxing time in nature for those of us who enjoy that, vitamin D, and possibly the process of the body generating its own Vitamin D and whatever else we don’t understand). The cost/hassle of sunscreen is a factor that keeps children indoors, especially in group care settings. I don’t understand the supposed skin cancer risk very well. I understand that tanning beds increased risk for my generation, but I suspect that skin cancer rates are climbing due to better diagnosis, the financial aspects of providing treatment, and people living longer rather than that skin cancer is really more common than it was for my farmer grandparents and great-grandparents, who spent far more time in the sun before sunscreen existed.

    I concur on the advantages of gluestick sunscreen for face application. None of my kids will wear a hat and it isn’t a battle I choose to fight.

  114. Yet another topic I agree with WCE on – we are pretty fair at our house, but we practice limited sun exposure and occasional sunscreen. If we can’t avoid standing in the sun (outdoor pool, parade), I’ll put it on. Otherwise we cover up, and spend time in the shade.

    I worry about the accumulation of years of exposure – and lots of ingestion from toddler and preschoolers (same thing with hand-sanitizer). I also worry about all of the risks of low Vitamin D – risks that don’t seem to clearly disappear with supplementation. I’d much rather my children go through getting some early basal skin cancers removed than get MS.

    Obviously, melanoma is a whole separate thing – but the correlation between sun exposure and melanoma is more tenuous, and the reduction with sun screen is also not so clear. (I love to end with a link: http://www.jabfm.org/content/24/6/735.full )

  115. we don’t do sunscreen every time we are outside. we do use sunscreen for going swimming/to the beach/ sitting in direct sun all day at a concert, etc

    DS and I both have fair skin and have to worry about burning more than my husband does

  116. Ada, thanks for the comment. You are far more aware of medical details than I am and I learn a lot from you.

    If I lived in Australia, my view on sunscreen and sun exposure would probably be different, but after a couple hundred days of dreary skies and rain, we’re ready for SUN!

  117. Ahh, the glue stick sunscreen. There was one in the bulk package I purchased at Costco — looked just like deodorant. I must have missed this new product development, but it sure seems easier than the lotion form. Though not as easy as a sunscreen pill.

    When I was a teenager, “laying out” in the sun was a religious experience for most girls, especially in our cloudy city. We used baby oil and some of my friends had reflective pads to get every possible bit of sun exposure on the rare sunny days. No such thing as “sunscreen” though we did have “suntan lotion” in brown bottles that sort of sometimes worked, but most of us had regular blistering sunburns and I can still remember how that felt. My kids did not get that kind of sunburn until they were beyond my control on trips with high school or college groups. What amazes me is the number of white people over age 70, especially women, one can see in places like Florida who have that leathery, wrinkled skin and are still clearly TRYING to get darker.

  118. We do pretty good with sunscreen since we live in an area with minimal shade. What we need to get better at is making sure the kids wear their sunglasses as a rule to protect their eyes.

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