Friday, January 05, 2007

A Heart to Heart About Helmets

Some parents reading this probably will dislike me. I don't really care. If they are brave enough to read it, something is drawing them to continue on. Maybe they want to be mad at me; maybe they are mad, but realize I'm right. Either way, I hope it sinks in.

Let me preface the upcoming blog by saying that I probably am not the poster child of wearing helmets. I am now, but I haven't always been. I've only been wearing one while riding to work for approximately 3-4 years now (full time). I've always worn one on training rides or mountain bike rides or any group/club rides. Unfortunately it probably was the realization that I couldn't be a full time helmet-wearing role model for my children if I skipped a day here and there. I didn't want to be the hypocritical parent that says one thing and does the other.

Growing up (I love you Mom) but I'm pretty sure that my Mom and Dad had no clue about helmets. I'm pretty sure that everybody in the thriving metropolis of Wakonda, SD (population 393 - SALLLLUTE!) was pretty much in the same boat as me. I don't remember anybody with helmets. Some of the stuff we did on bikes...well...let's just say I'm somehow still here on God's green earth. I'd like to say that I've suffered no brain damage, but there are those who would disagree.

I'm thoroughly convinced that parents who don't make their kids wear helmets are, in a word, STUPID. There I said it. And I mean it. Hey, you know, I've been looking for people who read my blog to actually post comments. If THIS doesn't do it, not much will. I know, I know: "My kid is safe", "It won't happen to me", "Helmets are expensive", "Helmets mess up my hair (a personal fav)". Guess what? It happens, more often than you think. So, as I sit here calling many people that I call friend "STUPID" I do so with the intentions of making you see in the following paragraphs to see the error of your ways. I feel strongly about this. You can still be stupid and be my friend, but chances are you WILL know about my passion about helmets. What you choose to do about that is up to you.

Well, that was quite a preface before getting to the meat of my story now wasn't it. This morning, Austin (child #1) and Marissa (child #2) were preparing to go to school as I was preparing to leave for work. I noticed Austin didn't have a helmet on and I asked for an explanation. The first part of the excuse, however weak, was still better than part two. "Dad, Marissa's helmet doesn't fit over her hat so I gave her mine. And her other one is kind of falling apart." Okay, excuse number one has plausibility, Dad now realizes that he needs to buy a helmet for Marissa. THEN, he had to open his mouth again. Bad move. Really bad move. "...and I don't crash so I don't really need a helmet." Realizing the error of his ways by the simple look on my face, I uttered the phrase that every child fears: "We'll be talking about this when I get home from work." And so we did....

After a REAL quick Google search on "wear a helmet" it only took two sites before I had more than enough ammo. The sites?: 10 Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Excuses for Not Wearing a Helmet! and Wear A I made Austin sit next to me on the couch and read the "excuses" site followed by the "wear a" site. It had it's effect. There are nothing like the very unfortunate events of young people dying or getting seriously hurt to make a kid think. You know that it has an effect when you see a little moisture under the eye of a ten year old boy. I also showed him a pdf file that I had saved from a 17 year old from Sioux Falls O'Gorman that was killed when the bike he was riding hit a car at a stop sign.

We talked for a bit after that. I wanted him to know that these rules I'm setting are not without reason. I don't want to lose a child, period. I definitely don't want to lose a child due to something I know that I could have prevented. He took my hint and said that he promises to always wear a helmet. Good kid...I love him very much...he needs to be reminded of that from time to time. He was tonight.

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