Something of a kerfuffle has erupted across Europe recently after little Alfie B. Chapman took a tumble during an overly competitive game of 'tag' in the back yard of friend and neighbor Deirdre E. Findlay.
It seems that during a rather enthusiastic 'tag' match, 3 y/o youngster Deirdre overtook and very roughly slapped older playmate Alfie to signify he was 'it.' Unfortunately, what neither Deirdre nor her parents realized was that young ladies mature a little faster than the gents and Alfie's 3 1/2 year old noggin wasn't quite up to controlling his gangly 3' 1/2" frame and he took a spill on their thick grassy back lawn.
His cries did not go unheeded for long, as Deirdre's concerned parents rushed over to fawn over him and inspect for any signs of damage. "Ohh, did you fall down and go 'boom'?" Deirdre's mum (a rather aloof but well-trained Nurse from nearby Derbyshire Royal Infirmary) cooed, seeking to soothe the toddler and covertly checking for and signs of brain trauma that might have afflicted the auditory or language-processing centers of his developing brain.
Alfie, ready to return to play, was counseled against it by Deirdre's mum who instead called Alfie's mum over, from across the fence. Upon entering the Findlay back yard, his mum queried young Alfie what had happened, to which he replied forthrightly, "I fall down, go boo-oom!" then queried with a tear in his eye, "I go back and play, mum?"
"No dearie, I think that's enough playtime for today..." was her curt reply as she led her child crying from the scene of the suspect encounter.
It seems, however, that this was not the only such incident in recent years. It seems that many games of 'tag' have becomes the scenes of increasingly energetic confrontations between playmates. Of whom, a considerable number appear to 'fall down, go boom' more frequently than their parents might prefer.
In fact, enough such complaints reached the Department of Child Welfare in the UK that a formal investigation into such complaints was begun. The results have only recently come to light after many years of diligent queries to parents and children alike.
It seems that there is no one gender or age group more prone to such incidents. Rather, it is a risk inherent to the game. A risk that an increasing number of concerned parents and community advocates feel is unnecessary and possibly detrimental to the development of their toddlers, citing the possibility of scars both physical and mental from 'going boom,' especially in front of their peers.
But the carnage doesn't stop there, in fact other games like Duck, Duck, Goose and Kick Ball have a similar rate of potential accidents, injuries and social embarrassment. Moreover, internationally, investigations into such childhood pastimes as Pin the Tail on the Donkey and flailing wildly at pinatas while blindfolded are all sources of potential danger and embarrassment.
Beyond social games, a closer eye is being given to certain toys that are currently GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). When it comes right down to it, any of a wide class of GRAS toys aren't quite as safe in the hands of youngsters as it was once thought. It turns out that, much like the folk wisdom of yesteryear, toddlers will in fact put just about anything in their mouths: from expired balloons to novelty noisemakers and plastic toy guns.
This has prompted Parliament to implement new rules for the 'safety of children in leisurely activities and the use of leisure-time instruments.'
Included in the rules, due to roll out early next year, are admonishments that children should no longer be allowed to inflate their own balloons (and parents should discard any unused balloons promptly or face a fine) and neither should children be allowed to blow into novelty noisemakers.
These guidelines are due to the very real possibility, however remote, that said balloons may pop and children may then believe that the popped balloons are edible and attempt to ingest them under the noses of their unobservant parents, or that the novelty noisemakers might somehow become undone and small parts may lodge themselves in the esophageal tract of said children, going unnoticed by parents for many thousands of nanoseconds until the child begins to choke.
Such time-honored traditions as friendly bouts of 'tag' and 'duck, duck, goose' may face the chopping block due to the potential for bodily injury and the potential pediatric mental distress caused by the revelation that not all objects in the real world are as soft as a downy pillow and that skinned knees are a very real threat everyone must face every time they venture out the back door or down the front driveway.
A few bad parents, who we've learned really don't care about the welfare of their children, think that these strictures are too extreme and that such rules may reduce the quality of childhood experiences for future generations. They also claim that such potentially life-threatening situations are and should continue to be a normal part of the childhood experience. They also claim that once the government starts getting involved in regulating back yard leisure-time activities, it will quickly become a very slippery slope.
The government has formed a new committee to look into the 'slippery slope' problem.
In the interim, an amendment has been added to the bill finalizing the proposed rules. Apparently, they had neglected to add Slip-N-Slide sets to the proposed banned list, on account of the very real threat of bodily injury posed by youngsters frolicking on extremely low-friction, wet, plastic-coated hillsides.
More on this story as it develops.