When the kids in my husband's family skin their knees or bang their elbows, a father or mother or aunt or grandparent is bound to say, "Rub it in the dirt." Adults who are not members of our family sometimes give us horrified looks, but the kids know what we mean: "Don't whine. Brush it off." The saying came from my husband's father, who was a talented athlete and one tough cookie. I'm sure he picked it up on a playing field somewhere.
I thought of our family saying when I read a blog post titled "Score One for the Helicopter Parents." "Has a grandparent mocked your parenting today?" the author, KJ Dell'Antonia, asks. She goes on to say that those who accuse the current generation of parents of being overprotective--which grandparents sometimes do--have been proven wrong. The proof? The rate of accidental death for children has dropped 30% in the last ten years. Car seats, bike helmets and fences around pools are among the safety measures that Dell'Antonia targets as responsible for the improvement.
I was offended by Dell'Antonia's piece, and from the comments that have been made so far, many other grandparents were as well. I want my grandchildren to sleep in safe cribs and to ride in the very best car seats. I think an unfenced swimming pool is an invitation to tragedy. I understand that the parents of my grandchildren have the inalienable right to decide what degree of risk is acceptable for them. Many kids' activities involve some risks, and I'm happy to let the parents make the call. But when skinned knees happen--as they will--I subscribe to the family wisdom. Rub it in the dirt.