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Saturday, March 19, 2005

My Own Little Evel Knievel Deathtrap

The latest soft, overly protective piece of parental advice:

Health officials are warning parents to properly restrain their children using seatbelts after research shows children in shopping carts are suffering injuries.

Well, no kidding.

Isn’t that the appeal of the shopping cart for a kid? It’s called being a daredevil. “My own little Evel Knievel deathtrap”. Where’s the fun in just sitting around watching Mom’s fat ass while she struggles for 20 minutes to perform a mathematical miracle calorie counting the number of carbs in a box of Chewy Chips Ahoy versus regular Chips Ahoy?

Fuck that! Let the kid surf.

“Let’s quit fuckin’ around Ma, and get this rocket ship moving through the frozen food aisle – if we don’t hit warp five by the Eggos, we’ll never make it to hyperdrive, goddammit!!”

I didn’t even know seat belts were an option for shopping carts. They certainly weren’t when I was young. Talk about lame. What’s next – mandatory helmet laws for kids in carts?

Oh shit. It probably is.

Anyone else getting tired of these soft, sheltering warnings and laws for kids? My generation grew up without seatbelts in carts and mandatory helmet laws…hell, my parents didn’t even have a “Baby On Board” bumper sticker on their car (sound of awestruck gasp!). Still, I think I turned out okay.

Why can’t we just let kids grow up and play and experience the joy and drama of living?

Hey, here’s a secret: Life isn’t always a safe and sugary joyride down the snack food aisle in a shopping cart. Sometimes it’s a terrorizing, fiery cart ride across the middle of a busy freeway full of drunk drivers with no regard for human worth and faulty power steering. How about we teach ‘em that lesson?

“Now strap on your helmet, Billy – it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”

See, the way I look at it, these overly cautious laws aren’t necessarily solving the problem – they’re covering it with a proverbial band-aid. Now Mommy doesn’t have to teach little Maximillian the benefits of wearing a helmet, he just HAS TO WEAR IT. The law says so.

So, I wonder…are kids growing up with a basis of reality for these laws? Do they understand the grounds for their enforcement? I doubt it. They’re kids. They don’t even understand why they can’t eat the paste.

But when I was young, there was a kid in the neighborhood we called Dumpty. He talked funny, drooled a lot and often stared at an elderberry bush for hours on end. We didn’t need a law to tell us a helmet would save us if we fell off our bike.

We just knew we didn’t wanna end up like Dumpty.