It’s Mother’s Day and I came home from a full day’s work. It’s 37 degrees Celsius (98.6F) in Dubai at 6 pm. Our house is a good 20 minutes walk from the nearest Metro station. I am drenched in sweat. Sunday is normal work day in the UAE (Middle East) so don’t be surprised why I am reporting for work on a Sunday – as do other holidays like Easter Sunday or Christmas…those are working days as well.
My preteen hands me out a birthday invitation from one of her classmates. It’s going to be in one of the popular facility with huge trampolines where you can jump all you can, with friends. She’s excited. I am certainly not.
I know I am guilty of being what’s called a semi (not full blown!) “helicopter parent”, especially when it’s about safety. I hover too much, especially when we are in the water, when they are young and incapable. I had been called overprotective and strict when I refused my 7 year old to go to the movies alone with her classmate.
I had to gather strength to politely say no to this particular birthday invitation and I see the disappointment in her eyes. I can’t blame her – if I was her age, I would sulk too and I did when I was younger. There had been countless times I was not permitted to go out with my friends because my parents foresee danger. I’ve never done sleepovers. EVER.
At this point I think I’m beginning to sound like my parents, specifically my father. We were watching a news program one night in the 80’s, I think I was about 12 or 13 and the news anchor talks about a group of teenager drowning in the river (or was it beach? I couldn’t remember) and here’s what my father said, “If those boys and girls stayed at home, they could have been alive now.”
Why did we say no to this invitation of a day of fun with giggling preteens jumping on trampolines?
Along with the invitation card, the venue of the party she will be attending included a waiver in which parents/guardians need to sign. It read:
“You acknowledge that the activity is potentially dangerous and that by participating in the activity the child will be exposed to the possibility of personal injury.”
“You acknowledge that the recreational activities can be dangerous with many inherent risks and hazards. As a consequence personal injury, and sometimes fatality, can occur. You voluntarily assume and accept all such risks and waive the right to sue the facility for any personal injury or fatality by signing the facility’s waiver form.”
…basically, they could not be held liable for whatever happens with the child within their facility.
I won’t judge parents who readily sign those kind of waiver forms in the name of FUN. But I simply cannot sign it and hand over my child there. My child could hate me…I am sure she already does as I write this post. I am on the fence to be soft to let her understand that I am not that entity that robs her of all the fun, that I am mainly concerned of safety because I wish for us to be together longer. And that she can still have fun with minimal risk, without that scary waiver hovering over her parents head and driving them crazy until the party is over.
We could argue all day long that ALL activities pose some kind of danger. Your call. But mine too. Your child, my child.
As real and raw as this sounds, trying to strike a balance between honoring our kids, pushing them to fly, and protecting them is a challenge. I can already imagine it being more difficult from now on. Tonight, someone in my house thinks I am a bad person, the taker of joy. She doesn’t say anything but I can read her mind and it’s all in her eyes.
Our daughter is 11. We don’t have any issues with birthday parties held at home/restaurants, etc or pool parties with adult supervision but we abhor signing waivers from facilities that wash hands from any liabilities that could arise.