Childhood Lost

Yesterday, my daughter came home from school and announced that “tag” had been banned for the remainder of the year. It appears that the other day, one kid fell while running, and yesterday, another got slapped by accident. Neither events caused serious injuries beyond a scraped knee that will scab, and perhaps a moment of unpleasant surprise.

I suppose I should be grateful that her school at least still has monkey bars, a jungle jim complete with a shimmy-down pole, a slide and several swings. In today’s world of litigation, all are lawsuits waiting to happen. Many schools have done away with the playground equipment. Other places, like where we moved from in Palm Beach County, have no recess at all, due to lack of time thanks to all those “No Child Left Behind” requirements that must be packed into each and every day.

I can understand the school’s need to protect itself against today’s parents who demand perfection, including no knees remotely scarred from bike spills, rollerskating mishaps and the like. With today’s judges willing to hear ridiculous lawsuits, and lawyers ever ready to take them on, a school can’t afford to allow any activity that might result in shelling out for a suit.

I could also understand a lawsuit if the children — unbeknownst to the parents — were attending unsafe buildings or playing on rusty equipment or arsenic treated equipment. I myself would be filing the papers if the school knowingly endangered my child in any way. But tag?

My daughter informed me that anyone caught playing tag would receive detention. Well, bring it on, I’d like to say. It’s bad enough that gone are the days of taking off on your bike, alone or with your pals, feeling the freedom and the wind whipping through your hair. I don’t let my daughter ride off on her bike alone or even with other kids, because of the dangers of abduction or worse. And I agree with the helmet rule (although I’m glad we didn’t wear them), as statistics indicate that over the years, many children were seriously injured or even died from head injuries caused by falling off bikes.

But taking tag away is just one more nail in the coffin of good ol’ fashioned innocence and play. Sounds to me like a few knuckleheaded parents are calling the shots, and unfortunately we’re all “it.”