Sunday, January 22, 2012

the risk assessment

This morning the children were up early.


I think it was 6:35 when I felt someone poking me with their little finger and asking, in hushed tones, if I'd go get their sled. Two questions swept through my mind:

1) Why the hushed tones, since they're clearly interested in waking me up?

2) The freezing cold attic? Why must they disturb me and not their father?

Not right away, but eventually, I did get out of bed. And we did go sledding. And when I went in to the house to make beds and unload the dishwasher and begin thinking about breakfast, my children were still outside, sledding, by themselves. Within a matter of minutes, I heard someone crying. When I ran out to investigate, I discovered Henry had sled headfirst in to a tree.

(No, I didn't snap off a photo of my injured child. This was a DIFFERENT lesser impact sledding injury and I thought it was so sweet how his brother was helping him up the hill.)


Of course crashing in to a tree was a possibility that I'd considered, seeing as our backyard is a partial forest, but I'd instructed the children to take a route that would be AWAY from the trees and I was hoping that our four-year-old would heed my warning and / or been more successful at steering his sled.

Additionally, I'd reasoned that if one of our children were to strike a tree, they had on a lot of padding. (Including thick hats, which I swear they had on when they went out the door.) They had on layers upon layers, because I'm very good at dressing them warmly. Before putting them on a piece of slick plastic, on a treacherous slope with multiple hardwoods jutting from the ground.


Yes. The safety professional in me sees the flaw in my logic. But it's the realist in me that understands sometimes the most harmless activity - like running across a yard - can cause a bone to fracture. And pulling someone out from beneath the table can result in a premature tooth loss. Small children whipping down a steep hill with mature trees? OK. From this perspective, I can see it's a suicidal obstacle course and I need to hide their sleds.


The important thing is that Henry's fine. Within a few days, the small scrape on his cheek will heal and he'll hopefully remember, from this point forth, that trees aren't soft and it's best to stay out of their way. Unless, Charlie has his say and cuts them all down.

In which case ... risk averted, problem solved!