Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Dangers of Flip Flops

           I am a huge Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan. I originally bought the books for my kids, but my daughter started reading parts to me, and I got hooked. The books are hilarious. As soon as the latest book came out, I picked it up, and my daughter started reading sections to me almost immediately. Greg was talking about how boring recess was because of his school playground. Due to injuries and insurance, they had removed all of the playground equipment for student safety.

            While the description was incredibly funny as usual, it made me kind of uncomfortable. I do think the schools are going a little overboard with safety. Last year, I got a call from the secretary at my daughter’s school. She asked me if I knew my daughter was wearing flip flops. It’s California. It’s hot. Everyone wears flip flops, so you can understand my confusion. The secretary then tells me that the student handbook clearly states that students cannot wear flip flops to school. I told her I didn’t remember reading that. She lost her mind inferring that I was uncaring. Didn’t I know that my daughter could trip and fall while running with flip flops? Didn’t I know how dangerous flip flops could be? My daughter is in junior high and most of them sit around talking or reading. They don’t run unless you make them.

I was too perplexed to laugh. I knew she wasn’t joking but didn’t see how she could be serious. I asked her if we should send our kids to school in bubble wrap and bike helmets. She got so upset with my “lack of concern” that she decided to look up the rule in the student handbook so she could read it to me. I sat quietly while she frantically looked for the specific rule against flip flops. It wasn’t there. It did say kids had to wear appropriate footwear. I made sure she wore her tennis shoes on P.E. days. I thought that’s what it meant. Again, it’s California. It’s 100+ degrees. Flip flops would be appropriate. She would not have it. She yelled at me. She yelled at the principal asking him if he knew that flip flops were not specifically banned in the handbook. A problem they remedied for this year I assure you. No more flip flops. It’s the law.

I also have problems with my daughter’s P.E. teacher. My kids are in Tae Kwan Do which is obviously a contact sport. They wear lots of protective gear and are closely supervised, but they get hurt occasionally. You would think that as a P.E. teacher, he would be glad that she was involved in a sports program outside of school. No. He told her that she had too many notes to get out of P.E. at school and that I should consider putting the kids in a safer sport where they wouldn’t get hurt. A safer sport? Are you kidding me? What sport is that? Croquet?

My husband will tell you that I am an overprotective mother, and I thought he was an adrenaline psycho who didn’t care if the kids got injured. He enjoys getting the kids involved in risky sports like riding dirt bikes, quads, skateboards, motocross racing, etc. It made me crazy. I said “The kids might get hurt!” He said “Yeah, so. They won’t die. They’ll have fun, and they’ll learn to be careful, and that they can get hurt and be ok later.” I didn’t get it at first. I certainly didn’t want to listen to my husband who has enough scars and broken bones to rival Evil Knievel. Then he pointed out that I have my own scars and broken bones that I got having fun and being a little wild when I was a kid. Didn’t that make me stronger? Make me fearless about going after what I wanted in life knowing that I could survive pain?

                He was right. I don’t want to see my kids hurt, but unfortunately, pain is part of life. I used to try to protect them from everything. Now, I teach them caution, but I also teach them not to be afraid of life. Sure, you might get hurt, but it can make you stronger. Sometimes the things you want most in life come with some pain and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. Don’t be afraid to live. Do what you love. Chase your dreams. Don’t be afraid to wear flip flops.

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