February 5, 2014 | Volume 8, Issue 2

Smartphone apps, social networking sites can be dangerous for kids; parents need to know the dangers, including bullying

This summer may be one of the hottest on record for much of the country. Americans have handled the heat in different ways.

Some are living in their basements, others start their cars 10 minutes before they have to leave their basement. Some people get a few good books and hunker down in an air conditioned room, and some go out jogging because… well… I don’t know why anyone would be so dumb. It is unlikely that heat stroke is on their bucket list, but any other answer eludes me.

When the temperature cooled into the high 90’s, I took my kids to a water park. I could be content to soak in the shallows of a wave pool or float around on a tube, slowing crisping myself, but it was too hot for lying in the sun. I would have to immerse my body in water to stay cool. Besides, at this particular water park, there were no wave pools or tube rivers.

Simply a lot of lukewarm water with a lot of slides, towers, ropes and pulleys meant to test your affinity for extreme sports.

My kids loved this park. Even my daughter, who shares my unfortunate fear of heights, climbed a 25-foot wooden ladder and slid down a 5 foot slide into thin air. I am ashamed to say that my only thought was one of relief that I wouldn’t have to climb that tower to get her back down.

My 10-year old, on the other hand, doesn’t know what fear is until it is too late. I think a little fear is healthy. It’s what keeps most of us alive. The only thing that has kept my boy alive so far is threat of video game deprivation.

“There will be no video games this weekend if you kill yourself.”

He has no fear and he has no shame. I bought him a new swimming suit the day before, but they were a little loose. I was the only one bothered by the fact that his little white behind kept peeking out of them. I pretended I didn’t know him.

My main haunts were the “banana slide” – which was a long, slow, wedgie-proof slide – and a lawn chair in the shade. This worked out well because these were the places my 10-year old would not be. At least I knew if he was riding a short, fast, chute-slide, his pants would stay up.

My 15-year old son had the nerve to tell my daughter, “Mom, wouldn’t be caught dead on the Tarzan ropes…” Which is why I was forced to swing on a 30-foot rope, drop into an 8-foot watery abyss, and receive the full benefit of an exhilarating ride, which, as far as I could tell, was a sinus cavity full of water. If there were any other benefits, I was having trouble recognizing them.

Having water up my nose somewhat deflated the impact of the “Take that!” that I was trying to give my son. The fact that he wasn’t even watching and nobody had taken a picture meant it didn’t really happen anyway. The water in my nose was proof enough for me.

At this point, a book and an air-conditioned room were looking really good.

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