The cracked back of my five-year-old son’s helmet after he rode his bike into a moving car and came out unscathed. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

OPINION: On helmets and helicopter parenting

How the “what-ifs’ and close calls can drive people with kids crazy

I had an inch of red wine in front of me as I noshed on a cracker with brie and honey.

It was a rare moment with my wife while out with friends for an evening of relaxation.

Then the phone rang.

The babysitter. A look on my wife’s face that I won’t soon forget. And then the outright panic: “We have to go! Everett’s been hit by a car!”

Our five-year-old son.

We were told he was likely OK. Still, these were the few words said before we literally ran to the car, and before I sped the very short distance to home.

A calm hovered over me at that moment as – interestingly in hindsight – I farmed out my panic to my wife and her unchanging expression, and tried to harvest a brief sense of calm.

Was he OK? Broken bones? Head injury?

Just drive.

As we arrived at the scene, directed by our eight-year-old daughter, there he was, being comforted by a doctor neighbour and aside from some scratches and a hurt ankle he was, in a word, OK.

The driver’s car with a large dent and red-paint scratches, his red bike with bent handlebars, and his expensive helmet cracked.

But his head? Fine. He was OK.

A police officer arrived followed by an ambulance, both of whom were comforting for my little guy.

And for parents who have suffered real tragedy with their children, the personal anecdote told so far here may seem banal, but those of us with kids know that sometimes parenting is about close calls. And we are left with what-ifs.

My wife and I started as helicopter parents, moving slowly if reluctantly at times towards the free range. But of course those helicopter/free range generalizations oversimplify parenting. We all try to balance between the two extremes.

This week, May 28 to June 3, is Bike to Work Week, a time to try to consider cycle commuting, but also cycling in general. I’ve always worn a bike helmet and made sure my kids did too, but part of me always thought: in a really minor incident are they necessary? And in a really severe crash, the helmet won’t help.

But after seeing my little guy crack the back of his head on the ground, emerging uninjured because of his helmet, it occurs to me there probably are a great many incidents like this where the helmet does help.

Yet so many still don’t wear helmets, I see them all the time, kids even commuting to school. Often happy families riding with kids wearing helmets, but parents not.

Little is more boring than continuous nagging about safety, but seriously people, helmets. Wear them.

Part of the issue of parenting is that we can never know when we’ll get that call or see an accident first hand.

We’ve owned a trampoline for years, a near death trap if you talk to some people. And if you ponder all the ways your children can be harmed, you’ll be a nervous wreck.

So it’s not always about helmets, it’s about common sense and staying safe.

Helicopter parenting doesn’t work, but you never know when you’ll get the call.

I think the best we can do as parents is teach safety, make sure our kids understand why things like helmets are important and then, well, cross our fingers.

Paul Henderson is a reporter at the Chilliwack Progress

Just Posted

More sailings coming to Haida Gwaii

The B.C. government says Haida Gwaii’s two BC Ferries routes are among… Continue reading

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Mold shuts down construction at QC supportive housing project

Construction of the new 19-unit modular housing complex in Queen Charlotte has… Continue reading

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

Most Read