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Back in late May I heard about this story.  Apparently the Centers for Disease Control are telling us that the nation’s public swimming pools are festering sores waiting to unleash a plague upon an unsuspecting populace.  The CDC even went as far as recommending that parents buy a testing kit of their own and test the water at their local pool before allowing their family to swim.

I can just see that now.

“Sorry Johnny and Susie, but we’re going to have  to pack up the towels, flip-flops, and sunscreen and head home.  The water here is just not safe.” 

“But, what about Randy and Jane, mommy?  They’re swimming.”

“Well, their mother is just a monster who apparently can’t read a testing kit!”

And, of course, no tears, tantrums, or attitudes will ensue when the kids are told that they can’t swim.  They will face it like small adults and go home for a nice safe……

You know, come to think of it what can little Johnny and Susie do?

I understand that the CDC is trying to work in the public’s best interest.  And, given their excellent scientific credentials, I am quite sure their data is accurate.  My question is not the accuracy of the data, but how anomalous is it?  Did we see a sudden shift last year in the quality of the water of our public swimming pools?  Or have they always been that way, and we are just noticing it now in a society that has become more and more litigious and apt to reactions similar to those of a fussy new parent?

When I was a kid we rode our bikes and skated without helmets, we ran through the sprinklers on our neighbors front yard, and we found muddy creeks absolutely fascinating.  Were my friends and I victims of absent parents who cared not at all for our safety?  Of course, not.  We were products of good families and caring parents. 

The difference is our parents let kids be kids.  We skinned a lot of knees, learned that getting shot by a BB gun is not much fun, and that when smashing things with a rock having someone hold them still (and thus depending on their reflexes to move in time) can sometimes result in unintended consequences.  These days if a kid skins a knee most parents immediately run for a first aid kit the size of a briefcase and stocked to handle an Ebola outbreak.  Evry scrape, bruise, and cut must be immediately sanitized, disinfected, and tightly bound.

When I was a kid we made do with our mom’s kissing our war wounds and sending us on our way with a loose-fitting Scooby-Doo Band-Aid that was gone before we crossed the street.

I understand the dangers that we are protecting our kids, and even adults in some cases, from.  I understand that the world is full of real and true danger that can cause tragedy to slink into our lives without a moment’s warning.  But we have to ask ourselves, at what point have we wrapped ourselves in so many protective layers that we can’t really see the world clearly through the shatter-proof plexiglass anymore?  Is it worth reducing our risk by a few percentage points to pack ourselves away in safety?  There is a beauty to the lessons we learn through pain.  Those scraped elbows and broken arms of our youth are remembrances that will guide us in life.

And scars make great conversation starters.



  1. I have a plethora of scars from all sorts of adventures that Baron Munchausen would be proud of. Although I never broke any bones (well my own any way). I let my kids play in the sprinkler, in muddy creeks, and all kinds of adventures like I had. I will tell you I fully intend to take my family to a public pool this summer, Little Buffalo and we are going to have a grand time. All of us will be in the pool swimming. You and T are welcome to join us.

  2. Dude, do you remember the public pool in Cary? I don’t even want to think about how many parasites were in the shallow end, and we all turned out okay!

    • That pool had SO many issues, but we loved it. It was definitely one of the places that is full of memories.

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