It’s a nutty world, nutty when it comes to fear, which is why I just had to look at eight pages of permission forms so my son, Jon, could go on a class trip to a local pool. His Grade 3 class goes once or twice a year.
So, eight pages. Five (5!) of my signatures with today’s date. This for the school in this part of the world, this fearful part of the world, that, really, is a bit nutty with all this.
All in case, well, nobody is really sure. But for sure, the forms do point out that in signing, the risks – “bumps, slips, falls and over-consumption of water” — are all well-understood by Mom and Dad.
Not that Jon wouldn’t be okay if he fell in the deep end. In his Ugandan school he swims several times a week. Hard. With no forms to sign. Not one. The only concern is that he actually works hard at learning to swim. Imagine.
Jon and I just returned from Alberta visiting Jon’s Uncle, a fine few days of exploration into the mountains at Banff and the dinosaur museum in Drumheller and other boyish sort of places.
It was all a grand cowboy sort of time, but there was a nutty moment there too. It was in downtown Calgary in front of City Hall.
There were some trees along the front sidewalk — it really was a nice part of downtown — and the trees were large enough to climb and so I boosted Jon up into one while his uncle and I watched him have a boyish time.
“It’s about time,” said a woman sitting on a nearby bench. “It’s about time somebody let kids be kids. I just heard about 20 parents tell their kids “no!”
Of course, I do love to tell my own children the big N-O as much as possible also – five times before breakfast if possible – but in this case I asked, “What, all those parents didn’t let their kids climb a tree?”
“No, they just said “no” to all kinds of things.”
But this wasn’t the nutty part. The nutty part came when a short time later, maybe 50 or so metres from those trees, I picked Jon up – he’s a sort of feather-weight for an 8-year-old – and I threw him up on a horse.
It was metal horse, a rather solid horse, about as tall as my shoulders and a fine specimen because it was so quiet and perfectly located for the photo I wanted with the words “Calgary” in the backdrop.
This is when the Boogeyman Patrol came by. He had a suit on and tried to sound important. “No,” he said. “No, you can’t do that. Get him off.”
I could spend many words going through the ensuing conversation. Suffice to say, the Boogeyman Patrol said sitting on this steel horse is dangerous, that the boy might fall, which, considering the horse hadn’t moved very far or fast his entire life, didn’t seem too realistic a suggestion.
So, even under the duress and the apparent danger, I took my photos.
I also asked, if this was so wrong, then why are no signs marking its wrongness with the words “Don’t put your kids on the metal horse for a photo.” No, I suspect I’m not the first dad in the history of Calgary tourism to do this exact move for this exact shot.
“And besides, who in God’s green earth are you?” I finally asked the Boogeyman Patrol Officer.
He showed me his ID tag and I pulled it close and maybe a bit hard (my eyes, you know, need to see things close during these times.) And so the tag said Calgary Boogeyman Police. Either that Calgary City Hall Security — my eyes, you know?
Later, when going over it all with my brother, we only had one thing left to say to Jon in the back seat of the truck. “Jon, if your Opa would have been there, it would have been something.”
But times have changed.
For the fearful worse.