Who are we really protecting?

Bear with me my friends, this week’s blog is a bit of a rant. This has been prompted by the fact that this weekend, while we were at our weekly family community swim, we were told (by a 23 year old lifeguard) we HAVE to be within arms reach of our son at ALL times when swimming, simply because he is under the age of 8.  Now, before you all start thinking I’m an irresponsible parent, let me tell you, my son is an excellent swimmer. He can do a full length on his own, he can do front crawl, back crawl and breast stroke and swim in the deep end with out any assistance.  We swim every week, or more, and the kids have been in swimming lessons since they were 4 months old! Does this mean I let him go swim by himself and sit on the sidelines with my martini (ha, I wish!), no, of course not! But we are trying to teach our kids to be active, independent, self sufficient people. Our society seems determined to wrap them in a bubble. But I ask, who are we really protecting?

I believe we are protecting the insurance companies and the big businesses who are trying to ensure that  nothing untoward happens. I understand that the City of Edmonton and the pools do not want any more tragedies like what happened this summer at one of the outdoor pools. However, now they are painting all of us with the same brush of “if the child is under 8, they clearly can’t swim by themselves, and the parents are clearly not responsible”.  By trying to protect everyone, we are actually hurting our society as a whole. 
I, for one, want children who are independent, creative thinkers. People who can make rational and informed decisions without waiting for Big Brother to tell them what and how to think. I also want to be able to make choices for my child that are in the best interest of my child!  This new rule makes me want to set a bad example for my son and lie! He is over 4’3″ and very articulate. He is OFTEN mistaken for an 8 year old, so why not take advantage of that? Because lying to get around a rule is NOT the right way to handle things. So I’m going to take this as a teaching moment, and have him help me draft a letter to the pool and the City explaining my frustration with this new rule. Perhaps we can drive some change and bring about a more rational rule.

This brings me to the schools’ rule of “no outdoor recess” in inclimate weather. -23 and the kids stay inside. REALLY? We live in Edmonton people, it gets cold here. Deal with it. When I was a child, our school was closed one day due to really cold temperatures, and my brother and his friend proceeded to spend the ENTIRE day playing outside in the snow!  If we ensure that our kids are dressed appropriately, they will be just fine. Kids play so hard that they stay warm, even when we are freezing.  We are all so concerned about the child obesity epidemic, and yet we continue to create rules that prevent them from being active. Not to mention that a day of indoor recess is a recipe for CRAZINESS in the classroom. Kids need to get outside and run around. Period. We need to stop protecting the school boards from the occasional angry parent who wants their child inside, and start protecting our children and their health.

In the end, citizenship is about concessions for the greater good.  I understand that, but it’s important to always ask “Whose greater good”.  When the good is for the children, I’m willing to accept the situation, even if I don’t agree with it.  But when the greater good is more profit for insurance companies, or the path of least resistence for administration, I believe we, as parents, need to challenge these bubbles and attempt to introduce some rational thought into the dialog.  In the case of the school, it can be as simple as ensuring the kids play outside after school or as complicated as a motion at the school board.  With the pool hopefully a letter to the City asking for a clarification of the policy (i.e. what criteria beyond age can be applied to the rule?) will prompt the conversation.  Sometimes as parents, the easy way is just to teach our children to obey, but that’s not the person I want my children growing up to be.  I want my children to be curious, to challenge the status quo and to disagree, respectfully, with rules that protect the wrong interests. 

One thought on “Who are we really protecting?

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