On our way home for lunch, Papa G and I nearly sideswiped a kid on a bike. The kid--a gradeschooler--had no business riding a bike on a busy street. Yet there he was, pedaling furiously from a side street right into the middle of the highway. Good thing Papa G veered to the right just in time.
Initially, we were a little jogged. For a while we thought hospital bills, insurance claims and one very worried mother. Make that two. Shock eventually turned to irritation when we saw the boy speeding off in his spanking new bike as though nothing happened. As if accidents don't happen in school zones on rush hours.
The whole thing got me thinking about safety. On TV last night, there was this news about a first grader who was hit by a truck while crossing the street on the way home from school. It couldn't have been the truck driver's fault entirely, but then who else gets the blame in cases like this? The victim? The parents? The community at large?
The kid on the bike sure needed discipline. I told the school authorities that much over the phone. I don't even think gradeschool kids are allowed to ride their bikes to school, especially if school is right downtown, I added. The principal promised she'll take the matter up during the first PTA meeting this week. They're too loaded to be expected to look after the kids, she said, but she'll do the best she could.
I am not totally reassured, and I am thinking: isn't it too much of a confidence on the part of the parents to allow their kids that much freedom? Sure, we can't tail our kids all the time but we can caution them against using the highway as a playground. Biking on parks and on out-of-the-way streets is okay, but on the highway, along with trucks and cars and tricycles and motor bikes?
Kids are kids, and they do tend to forget safety when they are having fun. A year or so ago, a gradeschooler fell off his bike and was ran over by a truck. He and a cousin were jostling each other on their bikes, unmindful of the passing vehicles. Three months ago, an eleven-year-old was hit by a car on the highway. He fled the confines of his subdivision to hunt for spiders on the other side of the road.
Stories such as these, especially when they happen close to home, give me the scare. I look at my daughter and I wonder if I'll ever get past my fear of letting her out into the street by herself. I will have to eventually but I know that I will have to fight the urge to get her all the protective gear in the universe--spells and mantras included.