Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Six Minutes of "Rescue Me" Changed Me. Forever.

I receive a lot of school notices from the Chicago Public Schools.  In the last week alone, I have received notices on:
  • A reported case of conjunctivitis (pink eye) in the classroom
  • A reported case of lice (bugs) in the classroom
  • Fundraisers #36-42 coming soon!  Get those checkbooks ready!

I fear I suffer from notice fatigue.  When other moms look at me at the bus stop and ask incredulously, "Didn't you get the NOTICE???," I usually feign ignorance and blame it on the teacher.  Poor teachers.  I blame a lot of things on them.  I figure they're used to it. 

Yet one recent field trip notice grabbed my attention.  Have a read:

The part that really caught my eye:  

I consent to my child participating in scheduled activities which include crossing a street and an alley or driveway within 1-2 blocks of the school, with adult supervision.  I understand that there may be a risk of my child sustaining injury.

If I understand the directive here, it is: Your kid may not listen to us, run out into the street, and get hit by a truck. Please don't sue us. Sign here now.

I chuckled as I scribbled my name on the dotted line with a fair measure of confidence.  I have been working on street safety since my kids were 3 years old and riding tricycles.  For as long as I can remember, my cry of "Stop at the alleys and look before you go!" has left my gaggle of little boys thoroughly embarrassed and looking forward to moving out of the house as soon as they can. 

There was a scene in the T.V. series Rescue Me that I think really inspired me to become the Dictator of Street Safety around here.  It was when Denis Leary's character was out watching his son ride his bike on the street.  After witnessing that finale, I was a mess.  I woke up Dan and Jack and told them they would never ever be allowed to ride a bike for as long as I lived.

I have since broken that vow (my husband suggested I was being a tad unreasonable), but the horror of that scene remains.  It was actually a defining moment of my early motherhood.  It might be silly that a fictional television show impacted me for years and altered my parenting style, but it is most certainly the case.  If you view the clip in its entirety, perhaps you might understand.  The street in the scene looks very similar to my own block - cars parked on both sides, regular traffic, etc. 

At Sunday's parade, I witnessed a child dart right out from between two parked cars to cross Maplewood.  Before anyone could react, a minivan came towards him and slammed on the brakes, missing the kid's head by about 6 inches.  The mom driving looked like she was going to drop dead of a heart attack.  The kid kept running. 

Had it not been for that moment, I might have been a little agitated by the whole taking "real" classroom time and devoting it to a skill that I believe parents are ultimately responsible for teaching.  Yet I don't ever want to be that mom in the minivan, or the mom on Rescue Me

They make me fun of me sometimes around here with the helmet thing.  Yet this scene is always there.  It is always with me.   

It haunts me.


  1. I had the same fear when my kids were riding bikes...in fact, my duaghter didn't learn to ride a bike until she was a teenager. What happened was this: My husband was riding in my sister's neighborhhod in FL, where they were doing a great deal of construction. He hit something (too small to be seen from a distance and flipped over the handlebars, landing on his back. His head bounced off the pavement and SPLIT THE HELMET IN TWO! If he had not been wearing a helmet? I'd probably be a widow. Or tending to a man in a perpetual vegetative state. (Which I sometimes suspect, but that's another story for another day.) Go ahead. Be a helmet Nazi.

  2. I couldn't help myself, I had to watch. Now I am sick to my stomach. I knew I shouldn't have watched it, and I knew I would take it way too much to heart. We are helmet Nazis here, too, but that video -- oh my goodness, that video.

    But I'm not upset. I think everyone in the universe who drives a car or has a kid should watch that video.

  3. I also watch a whole lot of news and programs and such that have made me be the over protective mama that I am today. Oh well. My kids wear helmets for bike riding and scootering. It's always those freak stories you hear about that make you go, who would have thought? Plus I have a weak stomach for blood and cuts and ER room visits so I'd rather head that off before it happens. :-)

  4. It gets better, wait til they start to drive..ugh

  5. No wait...wait til you're in the car with them as your trying to TEACH them how to drive...

    "Slowwww...slowwwww...sloWWWWWWWW, STOPPPPPPPPPP"

  6. I'm so glad there are people out there that are pro helmet wearing. I am a fanatic about it. My husband also had a bike accident and his helmet split in half. My daughter is too small for bike riding, but it's coming and we are going to do some serios safety awareness training! We've already started on looking both ways before crossing the street. This is a great post and a great reminder to mom's out there.

  7. My heart literally jumped as I read this. THANK GOD that kid didn't get hit! I almost started crying!

  8. I am not watching the clip.

  9. A little boy (8 years old) in our neighborhood fell off his bike in the fall. No cars, nothing, just fell off. He had a skull fracture, spent several weeks at home, no school, playing, etc. Then he spent months on very restricted activity. He just recently was ok-ed for going back to normal life. It's amazing what can happen and how one little piece of equipment can prevent it.

  10. I offered each of my children this deal when they started driving at age sixteen: If you can drive ten years without getting a speeding conviction, I will give you $1,000 dollars on your 26th birthday. One child failed that deal fairly soon, but still wound up being a good driver. The other one managed to have lunch with me on his 26th BD and had a very nice check for dessert.

  11. wow...never saw that video. Everyone should view this and/or just slow down. Accidents happen, still, so many injuries or worse could be avoided. I'll probably post this myself on FB or my blog. Thanks Marianne for bringing the subject up.

  12. Not gonna watch the video...I trust you! I hate seeing teens around here rising their bikes with their helmets on, but not fastened...what do they think is going to fall off as soon as they fall!

  13. Kirby - Oh my God. I'd never let the kids (or husband) out of the house after that!

    Jennifer- It sticks with you, doesn't it? Thank you for being a helmet Nazi!

    Sandbox germs - I'm with you. Blood nearly kills me.

    Maplewood - way to give me more things to worry about!

    itsadomelife - We can't help but worry, right? All. The. Time.

    Mrs. Luttrell - I needed meds after witnessing that. I was shaking for 1/2 hour.

    Anonymous Atheist Friend - I knew you wouldn't. But stop making fun of me when I make the kids wear helmets when they cross the street!

    Jewels - that's horrible. I couldn't imagine....

    esbboston - can I steal that?

    Andrea - kids are stupid. Period. That's why we get to make their safety decisions for them, right?

  14. You suck, Marianne!
    Here I am at work, minding my own business and catching up on your blog... I had to check out the clip to see what you were talking about. Now I am bawling... at work!

    And, my kids will now be playing outside only in bubbles or full on protective gear!

  15. Rada - mission accomplished. Your kids are entirely too cute to be splatted. I'm thinking full body armor?

  16. Oh my...at work and watching that clip. So sick to my stomach! I had a dream when Jeff was younger that he got hit by a car and it was very realistic! I remember the shirt he was wearing in the dream was covered in blood. I never let him wear that shirt again. That just brought back all those horrible feelings! We are also helmet Nazis!

  17. Cela - those dreams....I know what you're talking about. The emotion in them is so real. I would have burned the shirt, too.