Safety Predictions for 2010

Hi Readers! Judy Gruen, a mom of four and the author of  The yhsdnatikz
Women’s Daily Irony Supplement
, wrote this up for us! She invites you to read her columns



Soon we will herald in a new year. What will it bring for those of us concerned about the house-arrest trend of parenting? Here are my predictions:

1. No parents will be allowed to take their newborns home from a hospital without first implanting a GPS device in them. Federal workers will make random home visits to ensure that the GPS is fully charged until the child goes off to college and attends his first frat party on open keg night.

2. Tag will be officially outlawed, along with other harsh, demeaning and degrading activities that can damage growing egos – not to mention knees.

3. Retailers will continue to rake in buckets of bucks with t-shirts geared for teen girls emblazoned with felicitous phrases like, “Legal-ish.”

4. Parents planning to allow children under the age of 16 to cross a street unaccompanied by an adult will have to file a permit with city, state, and federal agencies. The 235-page application must document successful (documented) completion of 30 hours of pre-street crossing lessons.

5.  An intrepid blogger will discover a series of suppressed emails trying to squelch evidence that a little bit of dirt is actually good for kids.

6. “Simon Says” in schools will be restricted to Simon saying it is time to do our homework.

7. Following recent trends, more cities will exile Mrs. Claus from Christmas parades out of fear that children will be confused by seeing two adults wearing red costumes. On the other hand, Mr. Peanut will be required to take a wife because of rumors swirling about him and Mr. Clean.

8. Carrying a concealed peanut within 500 yards of an elementary school will be outlawed. First offense punishable by a $10,000 fine or six months in jail. Second offense: a $25,000 fine and being forced to be a contestant on the show, “So You Think You Can Dance?” Third strike and you’re out: in the slammer for five years with your TV locked on C-Span.

9. The National Endowment for the Arts will offer grants of up to $1 million for artists depicting such quaint but now illegal American objects as the see-saw, the tall metal slide, and merry-go-rounds. These will be showcased on a nationwide tour next to Norman Rockwell paintings, butter churns and a happy, sunburnt child.

34 Responses to Safety Predictions for 2010

  1. Blake December 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    I seem to have run into a small conundrum… this made me laugh quite heartily, but… it looks like all this insanity may actually be true. I don’t know whether to like this or hate it. Such a hard choice.

  2. Kirsten December 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    @Blake – I completely agree. It’s like the movie Idiocracy is more prophecy than comedy these days.

  3. ira December 3, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    It is funny, but sad…. they actually did outlaw Tag in our elementary school, because it can potentially be hazardous

  4. Davonia December 4, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    My grandmother’s cousin is Mr. Clean; well the guy they hired initally to play the part. Then, they bought his image.

  5. Mindy Stricke December 4, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Re: item #9, I did a photo project a number of years ago where I went around shooting old playground equipment in NYC. I didn’t go everywhere in the city, but in Manhattan at least I saw only one merry-go-round, one see saw, a few tall slides, and just one or two old metal jungle gyms. 3 weeks after I shot the tall slide and the amazing jungle gym (I had played on ones just like them when I was a kid), they were torn down. The see saw was in central park, I think that’s gone now too. This was in 2001. If anyone’s curious to see the shots, you can view them on my website. They’re definitely reminiscent of a lost time. Sigh…

  6. Tana December 4, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    beautiful pics, mindy. it’s scary how many of the things on the list aren’t far from possible. i think if any kind of chip was required (re: 1), some of us would do everything we could to leave the country.

  7. Jen Connelly December 4, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    My kids have had the privilege of playing on those old playground equipment. We lived for 2 years outside of Pittsburgh in a small town called Coraopolis. One of the playgrounds had one of those metal slides. It wasn’t super tall (about 5′) but it was rickety as hell. My kids loved it and I sure didn’t hover over them even though it scared me half to death to watch them climb up it (they were 3, 4 and 5). They also had an old jungle gym (not a super tall one) that they loved to climb on. The “baby” swings were open in the front, lol.
    And then, there was this big park we drove to all the time, Brady’s Run Park. Every picnic area had a tall metal slide, swings with the wooden plank instead of the flexible rubber and at least 1 seesaw some with the tire under to catch the falling person, some without. My kids learned all about not getting off the seesaw if the other person isn’t ready. My oldest daughter got her teeth rattled, lol. The other fell off the swing (which she also did this summer at 6 years old at a park in Milwaukee with the soft rubber ground…she just falls a lot). No one has ever gotten hurt on the slide.

    And one other park near us had a huge merry go round that the kids had a blast on. I got horribly sick and almost threw up. Guess I’m not as young as I used to be.

    I’m so glad my kids got those experiences before they tear them all out to protect my precious little ones from themselves or whatever.

  8. 9to5to9 December 4, 2009 at 1:20 am #

    Our old school district had outlawed tag, too, Ira. I’m not sure what the tag policy is at our current school district – did I really just “tag policy” and “school district:” in the same sentence? – but I know girls have been chasing my 6yo and his BFFor This Month lately and trying to give them “makeovers.” I guess that’s not tag, though.

  9. Ginkgo100 December 4, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    Here are some more predictions:

    All children over the age of six months will be required to participate in at least two organized activities, independent of school or day care. Qualifiying activities include sports, scouts, gym and dance lessons, and music lessons. This requirement shall not be waived on account of finances, individual family needs, or the availability of superior enrichment activities such as playing in the backyard. Any parents not complying shall be deemed Bad Parents and may be reported to social services.

    Parents shall be held liable for the behavior of their children—literally. If a child throws a tantrum in a supermarket, the parent shall be charged with disturbing the peace and possibly resisting arrest. If a child strikes another child, the parent shall be charged with assault. If a child refuses a parent’s request to stop playing on the McDonald’s play land, the parent shall be charged with trespassing. Your children had BETTER be PERFECT, or ELSE.

    Any family with three children will be required to undergo counseling about overpopulation and birth control, in which they will be asked repeatedly, “You know what causes that, don’t you?” Any family with four or more children shall be investigated to ensure the children are not suffering from neglect, including lack of the required number of organized activities. Without scheduled outings with other children, how will they ever be socialized?

    A new line of plastic dolls will be introduced. These dolls will have unrealistic body proportions equivalent to a size -2. Their ribs will be visible, and their boobs will be enormous. They will out-Barbie the Barbie dolls. However, because we live in a progressive age, they will not discriminate; the marketing will show the girls dating each other when they are not with their sugar daddies.

    The Game of Life will be reworked to include credit cards and discourage having more than one or two children. (Oh, wait, that one already came true.)

  10. Sky December 4, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    Tag will find a way.

  11. Dot Khan December 4, 2009 at 2:07 am #

    A possible alternative that the banners of dangerous things such as playground equipment might try is write (with their lawyers) handbooks on the safe use of things that weren’t hazards for us. This would be similar to the product manuals that no one can understand even though they are printed in a dozen languages.

    Failure to adhere to regulations results in having to watch CSPAN?
    That beats enduring Nancy Grace or CSI.
    The government watching us is probably as boring as watching the government on CSPAN.

  12. decemberbaby December 4, 2009 at 2:33 am #

    Hey, my elementary school outlawed snowball fights and “Red Rover”… and that was twenty years ago. No telling what insanity lurks around the corner. I’ll just have to keep my two-year-old at home to make sure she’s allowed to climb the five-foot junglegym and slide down all by herself.

  13. Alexicographer December 4, 2009 at 2:57 am #

    Gosh, I already “chase” our 2 y.o. through the house telling him, “When I catch you, I’m going to tickle you!” And then we reverse the roles. Setting such a bad example for my son, so young.

  14. progressboink December 4, 2009 at 3:07 am #

    10. If you don’t follow “expert”‘s advice, your children will be placed in foster care.

    Who hasn’t seen a fussy eater? This was completely over the line in my opinion (on the part of social services) and just shows how out-of-hand situations can become when government becomes too personally involved in the daily lives of its citizens…

  15. Steve DeSanto December 4, 2009 at 4:35 am #

    Great list, Judy – one that should be picked up by a few newspapers.

    I’m hoping that Lenore’s book, Free Range Kids, and this blog have started a serious trend that will gain momentum. The more we talk about the odd ball silliness of current laws the more likely the chances of turning things around.

  16. Alana M December 4, 2009 at 5:02 am #

    I had a dad come over the other day to pick up some stuff. My younger son 7 was hiding from older son 10 while playing hide and seek. He hid so well because he went all the way down the street and no one could find him for over 15 minutes. The dad wasn’t joking when he said it would be great when kids have a built in tracker so we would know where they are and no one would worry. I laughed a hollow laugh and said that 7 yo son would be found eventually. And surprise, surprise, he was.

  17. Leppi December 4, 2009 at 6:01 am #

    I can only say :

    Yup! Sounds reasonable…

  18. Ralphinjersey December 4, 2009 at 6:06 am #

    Re Nos. 6 & 7:

    How does homework increase scores on standardized tests?

    An allergic child may be traumatized by the sight of Mr. Peanut. Do away with him altogether.

  19. o.h. December 4, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    #4 seems familiar. At our downtown parish, children under 7 had to be signed in and out of Sunday School classes by their parents, as a measure for dealing with the very real safety hazard of an alley running through the parish grounds and some near misses where young children dashed across the alley on their way to/from class without looking for cars.

    This year, ALL children, regardless of age, must be signed in and out by their parents, to prevent KIDNAPPING. Sign-out sheets must be turned in to the DRE (director of religious ed) to confirm compliance. Some of us Sunday school teachers pointed out to the DRE that we can’t sign our kids in and out, because we have to stay in our classrooms until the last child is signed out. Our pastor said, no exemption. My teen is bigger and stronger than I am, but she has to hang out with her Sunday school teacher for twenty minutes so Mommy can finally come collect her personally and walk her to the car.

  20. o.h. December 4, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    I can’t believe I forgot to add that parents are no longer allowed to sit in the back of the class and see what their children are being taught in Sunday School without first–not kidding–attending an all-day sexual abuse-counselling workshop, offered a few times a year at different places throughout the diocese.

  21. Mae Mae December 4, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Love it! As I do most of Lenore’s finds. I am off to read more of Mrs. Gruen’s columns now.

  22. Nicola December 4, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    So sad.

    You know… I ran under a see-saw in action once.

    Notice. I said once. Contrary to what people seem to think about children and their brain capacities… I learned to look and understand that if kids are on the see-saw, my head is not safe under it.


  23. Julie December 4, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    @ Devonia
    Mr. Clean is my niece’s boyfriend. Let me back up. When she was 4 years old she did not get to watch much TV. She saw a commercial for Mr Clean and told her mom that she likes Mr. Clean. She is 17 years old now and we still tease her about liking Mr. Clean. Last Christmas I bought her MrClean pajama pants. We can not use magic erasers without thinking about Cierra and Mr. Clean.

  24. harmil2 December 4, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    Interesting. Some folks fear government telling people what to do, but I see alot of people doing “bad parent” games with their neighbors like it is some kind of competition and cool to criticize others. None of the feared rules and laws will happen unless a majority votes for such stupidity and/or we continue unrealistically demanding 101% safety and hire lawyers when we don’t get it. We may meet the problem and find out it is us. Go Pogo!

  25. Brigit December 4, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    In reference to TAG, My 4 y/o daughter goes to Pre-K for 3 hours a day. Today they all were racing started by the teacher, over the concrete sidewalk,through the dirt and worn down mulch. They had a blast even my daughter who fell and had a softball sized goose egg on her head but guess what no lawsuit, no life long trama, and she was back to running when we got home. It will be a shame next year if she doesn’t get to enjoy the same things.

  26. Julie December 4, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    Diving boards! Don’t forget how dangerous they are and how many children die on them each summer. There’s a lot fewer of them now and heaps more rules surrounding what you are actually allowed to do off of them.


  27. Aaron December 5, 2009 at 1:25 am #

    Re: #9 I jest spent a year in India, six months with my 11 year old daughter. Talk about unsafe! Gosh. Kids walk to school alone, play badminton in the streets, stray dogs are everywhere, and the playgrounds – where they exist – all have tall metal slides. More than that, rather than being a single piece, they are thin sheets riveted together, and when the rivets go its like sliding down overlapping razor blades. Ok, it’s not quite that bad. But these are TALL slides. My daughter, who is not afraid of heights, was afraid to go down them. And finally, as we all know, India is hot. You try sliding down a metal slide that has been baking in 110 degree sun for 10 hours.

    Yeah, India…it’s a wonder all their kids aren’t already dead.

  28. Lihtox December 5, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    We visited my hometown for Thanksgiving and I was delighted to discover a seesaw in a local playground! And it looked relatively new, too; the playground also had one of those modern all-in-one structures too. Now my 2-year-old daughter knows what the song “Seesaw, marjorie daw” refers to. (I got a good workout from it too: I outweigh my wife and daughter combined. 🙂

    Growing up, it was sad to see our neighborhood playground (not the one mentioned above) slowly lose most of its fixtures, leaving only a small central “fort” and the swings. Forcing all the kids to play on a single apparatus sounds a little dangerous: kids form cliques and would probably prefer to spread out a bit more. The best part of my neighborhood playground, though, was an old swimming pool which they stopped filling a few years before I was born. For a couple years, before they filled it in, we could climb down into the concrete-lined pit and throw tennis balls off the wall. (It wasn’t very deep, obviously.)

  29. amber December 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    Haha. Nice. Gotta love those oldschool rusty playgrounds! Although I do have to say peanut allergies aren’t something to make fun of or mock parents for caring about. Many kids with peanut allergies can develop anaphylaxis from eating just one peanut or being in an environment that smells like peanuts. It’s not like the cat allergy that I had as a kid where I’d get sniffly and my eyes would itch when I was around cats. I tried to avoid cats, but it wasn’t something my parents even mentioned to caretakers. Not life-threatening. Teachers and caretakers failing to take peanut allergies seriously, however, has resulted in the death of children. It sucks that some kids have to live without the joy of a pb&j sandwich, and that their parents have to forever take precautions against something so seemingly innocuous as a peanut, but I definitely wouldn’t mock them for doing so or for asking for peanuts not to enter a classroom where their child will be. Not when their kids can literally swell up and DIE within minutes of inhaling/eating a peanut. With that said, I really hope my kid is born peanut-allergy free so I have the luxury of not giving two licks about peanuts.

  30. Lihtox December 6, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    @amber: It’s true that a peanut allergy is no laughing matter, but aren’t severe peanut allergies rather rare, and isn’t a goal of Free-Range to put risks into perspective? If a school has a kid with a known peanut allergy (and maybe there could be mandatory testing, in the same way that kids are required to be properly vaccinated), then precautions should be made; but if not, perhaps banning peanut butter sandwiches from the premises is the same sort of overkill that keeps kids from walking to school or playing on a jungle gym.

    I don’t know a lot about peanut allergy, though, so maybe I’m just blowing smoke: how rare is a serious reaction? is there a reliable test for it? can a peanut allergy come on suddenly and virulently? do all allergy sufferers have the potential of having a severe reaction, or only a few? And so forth.

  31. Anna December 6, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    The peanut allergy is blown out of proportions. Maybe there are a few people that will have a serious reaction when in the same room with a peanut but honestly most people with this allergy will only have a reaction when eating the peanut.
    Also, I have never in my life met anyone with the peanut allergy and I now live in China where everyone still gets a bag of peanuts during flights…..does the peanut allergy only excist in the US?

  32. Kimberly December 6, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    The difference between Asia and the US may be the way the peanuts are served. In the US they are roasted. In Asia and African cultures they are often boiled. The docs think this might make a difference. Also allergies are genetic and there are differences among both races and ethnic populations.

    I’ve only had a reaction from breathing 2 x, we think. Those both involved festivals were I had a mystery reaction to something. Then later found out they were using large deep friers with peanut oil. The oil particals are coating every thing.

    I don’t expect places like festivals to accommodate me by changing. I do expect them to TELL THE TRUTH. I’ve landed in the ER multiple times because a restaurant or other food vendors lied and said no peanut oil.

    I do expect places I’m required to be, to accommodate me or not require me to be there. I had a series of workshops I was required to attend in a very small room. They served snack that were heavy on peanuts. The smell made me nauseous. So I stood in the doorway to get some fresh air. I was told it was unacceptable. They threatened to not give me credit

    Another time the workshop was unexpectedly catered. The problem was the restaurant is one I don’t trust. I was told if I left the site to get food I would not get credit and be written up. (If I had known it was going to be catered instead of the usual 1.5 hours to go to lunch, I would have brought lunch.)

    In both cases HR backed me. They also back me about me bringing my Laptop to workshops. (I’m dysgraphic and dyslexic so laptop is easier to take notes.)

  33. Buck Teeth Treatment : October 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    baby swins are nice addition to your home, it also improves the motor skills of the baby;”:

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