Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hard Headed

I am not a role model but I am a hypocrite. I do not wear a helmet when I bike, ski, or skateboard (yes, I occasionally skateboard around my neighborhood). But, I make sure my children always have helmet-covered heads before they are allowed to do any of the aforementioned activities in which I so wantonly and helmetlessly partake.  

My doctor told me "Wear a helmet. A helmet will blah blah blah." I tuned her out once she launched into her tirade about the benefits of wearing a helmet and how my kids will refuse to wear helmets when they see I don't wear one. That last bit is not at all true because I am not like some other touch-feely parents who let their children treat them like shit and then turn around and ask for a second helping. I was raised in the south where good manners are expected. Step out of line and it's a "switch" (a small tree branch) to your backside. I am not even kidding.

I am not quite as iron-fisted as my elders were with me but my children know that mom rules the roost and when you cross mom, then nobody, not even Dad, can save your ass. So they wear their helmets because I said so. And it doesn't matter that I don't wear one. 

But I am a little freaked out about the death of Natasha Richardson's. The media is focusing on her helmetless head and using this opportunity to reinforce the importance of helmets. But I wonder: How the f*ck did that happen? I have fallen harder and on much steeper slopes than Natasha Richardson and I have bonked my head a time or two. Hell, I got hit by a truck when I was a kid and thrown twenty feet into the air before hitting the pavement. I was sans helmet then, too. 

I am of the mindset that a helmet - especially on a ski slope - doesn't help much; helmets don't keep people from crashing and one study shows helmets have not reduced skiing fatalities.

Sure, I may be tempting The Reaper just a little bit but freak accidents happen and wearing a helmet is not going to protect me if it's my time. Natasha Richardson's fall and subsequent death was a freak accident - it could have happened to anyone - but I don't think it's a sign that I should wear a helmet when I ski. I think it's a reminder that I should live every day the way I want to live it even if that way is neurotic and helmet free. 


Anonymous said...

I'm going to tell my kids: "If you don't wear a helmet dad gets in trouble. That's why."

Helmets keeps child services away...

Catherine said...

Wearing a helmet on a bike makes a great deal of sense. I suffered a significant concussion in an indoor wading pool in Germany in 2002. I learned a lot from the experience about how the head can be affected from something so "small" but indeed I couldn't have been wearing a helmet.

Richardson's head injury was similar in symptoms to what happened to me except she hit her head hard enough to have bleeding, not just swelling. The entire incident brought back bad memories. I was very sad for their family. It was indeed a freak accident. A car accident in which the head would hit the car door window would cause a similar effect and again would be a less often occuring accident than sports concussions which are generally a lower grade of concussions.

~ Cat