A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
Around this time of year, it’s important to take a moment and remember that the holidays aren’t just about eating and shopping. They’re also about innocence, and that special kind of magic that happens when a kid gets just what he or she always wanted for the last year or three days — whether that thing was delivered by Santa or the spirit of St. Louis or just plain old mom and dad. On the flip side of that delightful coin lies the other other thing the holidays are about: preventable, predictable, toy-related childhood injuries!
So, it should come as no surprise that toy-related injuries are up 40%, and the main culprit behind this calamitous trend is that most bemoaned scourge of the city sidewalk: the scooter.
You’ve seen them, without a doubt. More than that, you’ve dived out of the way when a kid who probably can’t yet tie her own shoes goes flying past you, school uniform a-blur, wind in her hair, and a parent sprinting behind her screaming, “ADDISON STOP AT THE CORNER STOP AT THE CORNER ADDISON DO YOU HEAR ME STOP RIGHT NOW ADDISON GOD-DANGFRABITZNABITZ!!!”
Gee, what a surprising turn of events.
I’ve been shaking my fist in the air in curmudgeonly disapproval of scooters for years, since the first time a young Addison-type nearly clipped me on her way into oncoming traffic. I always swore to myself that my kid would never ever ever never never be a scooter kid. I mean, maybe he or she could tool around in an empty parking lot or in our driveway, but that would be it. And only if he or she got really good grades and wore a helmet and ate every single last brussels sprout. In the world.
Of course, now that I actually have a child and she is permitted to venture out of doors and interact with other human children in public playspaces and the like, it is obvious that I will soon be asked to produce a scooter of her own. She’s fascinated by the bright, plastic, two-wheeled beauties we see lined up in our local park, each one more tantalizingly off-limits than the last. She, along with all the other mobile babies and toddlers, seems magnetized to them. She wants to touch the handlebars, push them down the path, turn the wheels, even stand on them. I’ve temporarily convinced her that they are “only for big kids,” a rule she appears to respect with a level of reverence that will likely soon morph into burning desire.
And what’s a mom to do? Hold my ground, I hope. If she takes after me in my abilities to remain upright on a vehicle with fewer than four wheels, I know that I’ll be doing the right thing in saying no.
Anyway, the scooters may cause the most accidents but they’re still the tip of the iceberg compared to the legions of toys that are made with illegal levels of harmful chemicals. And it doesn’t matter if your kid is the type to put things in his or her mouth. We’re talking about everything from hair clips to a backpack being potentially dangerous. I’m not sure about other parents, and I suppose I can’t exactly speak from experience here, but I think I’d prefer a broken bone to chromium poisoning or hormonal accelerations due to phthalate exposure.
I need to rethink our entire Christmas list, it seems. Wooden dolls and hoop-stick sets for everyone! But be careful with that stick. You could put an eye out.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!