We had the winter’s first snow this past weekend, and there was new puppy excitement all over my house. There would be snowmen and sledding and hot cocoa with marshmallows.
As they do every year, the town flocked to the local golf course to enjoy the winter playground. Of course, we weren’t supposed be there. But this kind of snow can’t be squandered. It must be raced on and sledded down. It must be as covered with red cheeks and happy smiles as the hills are with dazzling bright snow.
The day before, in anticipation of the coming blizzard, my husband went in search of new sleds. No cheap plastic ones would do. No sir. We went to no less than four different stores before finding the acceptable vehicles for complete sliding satisfaction.
I bundled the kids’ energy into snug little suits and sent them off with their dad. I don’t enjoy sledding at the golf course. For one, it’s cold. Second, it’s too crowded and dangerous. I’m wincing with every run. Teenagers take too many risks. Kids are racing back up the hills, where sledders are racing down. Many are without helmets. Children are unsupervised. It’s fast and wild.
The near misses make you cover your eyes and exhale with a cold puff of visible relief. And then we all laugh, because we got a thrill, the day is brilliant, and it’s all good. Except this time. What should have been a near miss was a direct hit. One second, a beautiful little girl was laughing, speeding down the hill with her friend. The next second, horrified silence. The unimaginable. The moment where life changes forever.
So many adults and kids witnessed, even commented, on the danger of those slopes. But we do as we always do with risks that we take every day – I’ll just type one text while driving, I’ll just leave my kid playing on the lawn for one minute to answer the phone, I’ll just let a few boys jump in the trampoline together – we close our eyes and assume that nothing horrible will happen. How could it, on such a brisk, stunning day? How could it, to such a perfect little girl?
It could have been any number of people hurt that day. In fact, there were quite a few injuries. It could have been my kids. It could have been anyone’s. But it was a sweet third grader who I am now praying for with every ounce of hope that fills my soul.
My kids are never going sledding again.
Or biking in the street
Or on a trampoline
Or, uh, crossing to the bus
Or going on the bus
Or climbing trees
Or swinging high on swings
Or jumping on beds
Or playing sports…
I know. I know. It’s a slippery slope.
But that’s a risk I’m willing to take. At least when it comes to sledding at the golf course.