Thursday, January 10, 2013

When a Lawyer Goes Sledding....

January in Wisconsin translates to many things: snow plows, Packer Play-off hopes, golf courses transformed into cross-country ski wonderlands, and kids zooming down hills on sleds.  Of course, three of the four depend on there being lots of snow on the ground (okay, maybe the Packers' Play-off hopes depend on that too).  So when this past weekend we saw the forecast for the week ahead calling for temperatures in the low 40's combined with rain, we knew that Sunday must be a day for sledding.  We had not managed to get the kids out yet this year, and the hill would likely be turned into a expanse of slush and mud with the warm up.

Mission accomplished.  Adorable in their snow suits, hats, mittens and boots, our children squealed with delight as they zoomed down an icy hill into a field of fluffy flying snow.  "Again!" they shouted.  For a good hour we drudged up the hill, and then shot down like a rocket.  We were not alone on the hill, many families with young children joined us in this quintessential Midwestern winter fun.  Laughter rang in the air, but there were the occasional tears and shouts of "watch-out!".  And then there was me, a mother lawyer.

Mothers seem to have an innate ability to sense danger when it comes to our children.  Combine that with a lawyers training to foresee perils, and you can have a rather damp personality on a fun outing.  I did my best to keep my concerns at bay, but they bubbled up when I saw two children, around ages 8 and 6, barreling towards my 4 year old who sat on the sidelines, resting while waiting for us.  Thankfully another parent was close by, and hovered over my son, and pointed for the kids to steer away.  From this I offer several lessons for a happy afternoon on the sledding hill:

  1. It does take a village.  If possible, keep an eye out for vulnerable ones and offer assistance if you can (thank you to the man who hovered over our son!);
  2. Scan the environment -- where are the sled routes, where are the climbing and resting areas, are there any huge bumps, made of ice, that will generate a lot of "lift", etc.
  3. Follow the rules -- sled down the established routes, and do your best to avoid the climbing and rest areas;
  4. Instruct the little ones in your group to follow the rules.  Caught up in the fun, they may not be thinking about what would happen if they ran into a small child; and
  5. Plan before you go.  Click here for more tips on keeping kids safe while sledding.

M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2013 -- note, he is not wearing a helmet....some kids were.  
So I am not the most worried parent on the snow hill!

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