The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Opinion

June 3, 2014

Wilkinson: Be safe enjoying summer activities

HUNTSVILLE — Ah, summertime. It’s here.

School is out, the pool is open, golf camp is soon and the temperature is nearing 90 degrees. It’s all good.

In a parallel universe, children crave the opportunity to hit the streets on bicycles, scooters, go-carts and skates, bringing up the fear of automobile drivers everywhere. When that tragic event happens in the street by your house, it is everybody’s tragedy.

I consider myself pretty much in charge of worry and apprehension. I am traumatized when a child breaks away from his father’s hand and darts into the street, and I don’t want to part of his tragedy.

It’s hard to know what a child is about to do when the excitement of friends, the allure of the playground or the appearance of Aunt Quincy causes a break that becomes a tragedy. The suffering is immeasurable — and the fault enough to go around.

I’m the paranoid who comes to a near stop as my car passes the incredibly-active soccer fields in my neighborhood. Hundreds of youngsters run, kick, slide and flail around. But, I don’t worry about them. My concern is the 3 year old running between parked cars into my path as his sister or brother is being closely watched on the field.

The players pose little danger to me. The little ones filling in the time during the practice do.

As I creep by the fields, I’m all the way concerned with who I might see. You see, the children of my children’s youth are now the parents of that next generation — the one whose world my generation is supposed to prepare for and protect.

I’m concerned that we have messed up in some places such as world relationships, environmental preservation and overall protection against crime.

While we are creating a car that will operate with no driver, our children are making their own way with little or no spiritual or humanitarian guidance.

I think about these things as I watch the alpha male at the pool having his way with the hearts and minds of every other child in the pool. They all want to be with him — or they want to be him. It doesn’t matter which, and it’s not a bad thing.

It is simply the process of growing up and growing into the person that each of them want to be. If his behavior is bad, the situation can be a bad thing. That’s where we come in. At the pool, or in the neighborhood, we have to be ever diligent.

Water is such a seductress during these lazy summer days. Last week, two 18 year olds, good swimmers, jumped into the rain-swollen San Jacinto River. One got in trouble with the current. The other, who partially escaped the water, fought to save her friend until his efforts threatened her life. She could not save him — and herself.

I said she partially survived because such a tragedy involves us all. She was part of the decision to go into the water, but the bad decision rested with them both. He was to graduate from high school this week. Indeed, hundreds of people are involved in a tragedy created by two.

I don’t mean this to be finger-pointing. Rather, it is a cautionary tale about the thrill of summertime and the dangers that lurk just under the surface of anything we do.

Get out there this summer and live the life. Go to Bible-school, soccer, science or cheerleading camp. Join the cast of the summer children’s drama production. Do something. Be safe.

And, do it fancy.

 

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