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Insurance repercussions

Readers — This  story about a blind kid who doesn’t want to be babied by his (lawsuit-fearing) school  is all about making a Free-Range Kid into an invalid:

Born blind, Deven Phillips has been in Nazareth Area schools his entire life. His mother, Paula Smith, has made every effort to raise her 13-year-old son to be independent. But after a year and a half of getting off his school bus unattended, the school district informed his mother that policy must change.

Briefly: Deven had been driven “curb to curb” until sixth grade. Then, at last!, he was ready to join his peers on regular school bus. For the past year and a half now he’d been let off at his bus stop, same as any other kid.  But one day this winter, when snow and ice blocked the regular stop, he got  a little turned around when he got off and the bus driver had to tell him which direction to walk. That was all it took for his school to go nuts with worry, either for his safety, or its own liability. School Superintendent Dennis Riker wrote to the mom:

“The major concern with the bus stop is Deven’s orientation when he exits the bus. … Therefore, it’s my recommendation to our transportation office that an individual be required to be at the bus stop to assist Deven, or our transportation department will provide curb-to-curb service. Both of these options, supported by the (school district’s) attorney, would be in place on a permanent basis, even when the inclement weather season ends.”

Yes, even when it’s nice outside, the proud and independent young man will be treated like he’s helpless.

This story hits close to home for me. My husband’s dad went blind at 16 and his parents fought to have him stay in his mainstream school, where he’d been a failing student. He struggled to finish, and went on to law school where he graduated…valedictorian.

Meantime, Deven’s school is teaching him this life lesson: “You think you can make in the world, but you can’t.” Lovely. – L

(Mis)remember the words of Helen Keller: "Life is a daring adventure...so make sure someone is always taking care of you. Also, avoid lawsuits."

(Mis)remember the words of Helen Keller: “Life is a daring adventure…so avoid it.” 

Hi Readers! This photo comes to us from blogger Tarja Kelly in Australia. Those are the pages and pages of warnings that came with a  Monsters U toy. The kids thought it was a book! Heck, maybe we SHOULD read all this fine print aloud to our kids as a cautionary tale of what happens when you mix childhood and legal departments. It’s Grimm.  - L

Call my lawyer and then we'll play!

Call my lawyer and then we’ll play!


Readers — Sometimes I am ready to jump out of my skin when I read about child “protections” put in place that do nothing but stymie kids’ development. Like this case, about  a basketball player sidelined for “safety’s” sake. The standout quote?

“The state high school organization made the tough call that Bailey’s prosthetic legs complicate safety for himself and the competition.” 

So should he NOT play ball? Somehow that’s BETTER for everyone?  - L


Readers — This looks silly and also extremely fun.  Bigger question: Is it the future of sports for our kids? Weigh in! – L

Readers — This story from Minnesota Public Radio’s Bob Collins is heartwarming, and enraging.

Seems a mom there, Anne Tabat, wanted to thank her kids’ school bus driver. So she baked some cookies and brought them to the bus stop — one for the driver and one for each of the kids on the bus, too. Her idea was to reach out. Connect. She did this every Friday for 15 years…until last week.

That’s when some anonymous person officially alerted the school district to this unofficially sanctioned practice.  We don’t know why the caller called, and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that once alerted, the school district felt compelled to shut her down. So,  my proposal:

To honor the cookie lady and to connect with each other, why not do one of the two things Tabat did? Either bake a treat for your bus driver and the kids. Or hold a cookie open house. That’s what Tabat is doing this weekend, and does annually. She just bakes a ton of cookies and invites the neighborhood to drop by. This year, of course,  they’ll all have something to talk about:

Some of her neighbors, [Tabat] says, are more upset about the cookie-bus indignity than she is. “I kept saying if you’re going to do something about this, go out and thank your bus driver. Get to know people, not just your neighbors. Get to know everyone on the planet you’re rubbing shoulders with. There are so many people doing things to make your life better, and they never get thanked for it. People are good.” 

The vast majority are. (And then there are the ones who alert the authorities to random acts of kindness.)  To win one for our team, I pledge to do some cookie baking today, and to use those cookies to connect. – L.


What kind of monster bakes cookies for kids and bus drivers?


*********Readers, one of you asked us to start a list of parks that still have merry-go-rounds. Does yours? If so, please tell us where it is!*********


Readers, did you grow up with a merry-go-round at the park? And now?

Interestingly, I couldn’t find any laws that state merry-go-rounds must go, only reams of regulations as to how high they can be,  how fast they can spin, etc. So maybe their near-extinction is simply due to a combination of excess rules, along with the specter of lawsuits. From one law firm’s website:

If your child was severely injured from playing on a merry go round, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering if the equipment is not up to code. For a free playground accident lawsuit case evaluation, fill out the simple form below and your case will be reviewed within 24 hours.

Which brings us to modern-day merry-go-round design. In order to abide by regulations and stave off suits, this company created a merry-go-round  that “encourages children to sit down while the ride is in motion.”

Ah me.

And then there are the do-good groups trying to keep kids safe (possibly by immobilizing them). As this site  notes:

“It only takes a second to collide with a moving swing, merry-go-round or teeter-totter.”

Isn’t that also true of a wall, by the way? Or a refrigerator? Or a giant (really giant) squirrel? Why make it seem like playgrounds are so dangerous? And it goes on to warn:

“How kids use the monkey bars, swings, merry-go-round, slides, etc., and the way they interact with others on the playground determine whether or not they will get hurt. Because children’s imaginations run wild, kids are at high risk, especially around their peers. Left alone, kids are apt to take chances, too.”

Gracious! That means, I guess, that we should NEVER leave them alone with their peers! That sounds dangerously like…playing!

Finally, here are instructions for how to dismantle a merry-go-round (with GREAT comments). And a lovely post at Think Banned Thoughts about a pre-k’s fight to save its 25-year-old playground equipment SUDDENLY deemed too fun to endure.

Er…too dangerous. – L.

Readers — Yesterday I asked you to ponder why the government is (or, apparently, MAY be) destroying its brand-new “Just Move!”  stamps that show kids doing things like skateboarding, jumping into the water and doing headstands. The real reason is that when they were shown to President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, as well as the “Let’s Move” team, they worried that the skateboarder wasn’t wearing knee pads, the swimmer was doing a cannonball (patently unsafe!),  and the headstand girl wasn’t wearing a helmet…which is the weirdest worry of all. Have you EVER seen someone doing a headstand wearing a helmet? It’s like wearing mittens to sew.

“This recall epitomizes the culture of legal fear: no risk too small to regulate, legislate, and sue our way out of,” says Ben Miller at Common Good, the non-profit fighting the good fight against ridiculous regulations. When it comes to pernicious influences in our children’s lives, he adds, “Do postage stamps belong on that list?”

To some bureaucrats, apparently they do. So thank you for all your guesses yesterday as to why the government is so worried about them,  including:

None of the kids are carrying water bottles!

Because they lack mouths and noses and eyes and therefore they should all be intubated and in the ICU?

I think I can see the top of the head belonging to a child sexual predator in the Stretch stamp.

The swimmer has no life jacket.

Juggling choking hazards!

.00000000000000001% of the population might get aroused from seeing these images of cartoon kids wearing shorts and bathing suits which would put ALL kids in danger.

That girl is going to hang herself with the jumprope.

The climber needs a full OSHA-approved high work safety harness and three spotters.

And the idea that I found most disturbingly plausible of all:

It is because their parents aren’t in the picture watching their every move?