Confessions of a hypocritical 'safety freak' mom

"I went for my first inline skate this year!" I told my daughter this a.m.. "Did you wear a helmet?!" she immediately responded. We hear a lot about overprotective parents these days, so this exchange might sound odd, maybe even unlikely. But we don't hear a lot about hypocritical parents and I am firmly out of the closet as one!

Let me explain... Since my kids were born, I have

  • Safety-edged every table, cabinet or other sharp edge in sight; I barely stopped short of plastic-cupping the elbows of visitors!
  • Slapped helmets on their wee noggins from the day they could hold their own heads up for: bike riding, skating (ice and inline), skiing - and I would have done so for tobbogganing if I'd heard of the high numbers of kids with brain injuries from this activity (I just learned that a few months ago!)
  • Forced little arms into life jackets for every boating, fishing and swimming occasion
  • Forbidden them crossing busy streets on their own until almost the teen years and then only with a friend
  • Granted cell phones and free calls between mom and kid as soon as their geographic freedom was inevitable
  • Failed to encourage hockey as a sport for either kid; bought son the best batting helmet money can buy when he fell in love with baseball
  • Instated a mandatory "seatbelt check" sign off by each kid before our car moves an inch
  • Enforced rules around washing fruits and vegetables, cutting boards, one's hands (sing the entire Happy Birthday song before you stopping sudsing) to keep bacteria at bay
  • I'll end here; I'm getting a bit overwhelmed by the litany of overprotectiveness!

So you'd think such a thorough, careful mom (my kids named me "Safety Freak" some years back; I dont' fight it) would be as cautious about her own well-being, right?

Nope. Last summer I went for a long rollerblade by myself in an area quite far from my neighborhood; I didn't take my healthcard or any ID, wasn't carrying a cellphone and .. wait for it.. WASN'T WEARING MY HELMET! (Yes, I have one and yes it fits; it was resting in the mudroom beside my rollerblading wrist pads, kneed pads, shin pads...)

Now, I pride myself in speed and finesse; I've been figure skating, playing hockey, speed skating and inline skating my whole life and I adore going fast. In my 40s my hubris around fast self-propelled mobility remains a wee bit inflated...

But of course, no amount of skill can help when a pebble is in the direct path of one's wheels, and I went down like a bigger version of said stone.

My next memory is being severely annoyed that several strangers kept trying to wake me up. When one asks directly in my ear (which was cozily planted on the cement), "What day of the week is it?" my annoyance grew: why can't he ask someone else, my warm fuzzy brain said, can't he see I'm sleepy?

Next memory: Paramedics are wheeling me into emergency and I distinctly hear "..rollerblading.. no helmet.. what an idiot." YES, I want to respond but again, sleepiness prevents.

In the end, I suffered only a minor concussion and some road rash on my shoulder and leg; I went home sheepishly with a husband who showed real character by failing to point out my lack of a helmet more than once.

Now I rollerblade with helmet on all spring and summer, even when temps reach into the 90s and my hair is plastered and sweat streams into my eyes as I skate.

Off-the-job safety and how it affects the workplace mindset

I like that my kids help keep me accountable for my safety now; my new humility suits me and it's helped me see the connection between off-the-job safety and workplace safety - a connection that's gaining attention these days.

According to a 2007 audio conference released by, last year heralded the introduction of formal recognition of relating off-the-job safety to workplace safety practices by such giant players as the National Safety Council (NSC).

Off-the-job deaths and injuries cost U.S. businesses almost $200 billion annually in lost productivity, according to the NSC. The Council also found that each year nearly two-thirds of injuries that disable workers, and 9 out of 10 deaths, occur off the job.

So the next time I think it's no big deal if I don't buckle up, helmet up, etc. I'm clearly not thinking about what my flagrant disregard for safety at home costs my employer and my country (not to mention my family).

How 'bout you?

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