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No. 4

In This Issue

Doc’s Digest
Medical Advice from Dr. Sayre
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by Dr. Rodger Sayre
- disclaimer -
Stupid Things I’ve Done: Part One

“Climb on, Rodge!” my older brother entreated. So I climbed onto the broad handlebars of the 1942 Schwinn bicycle (complete with balloon tires and Rust-Oleum treated rims).

Propping my feet on the sturdy front fender, off we went. No particular destination. No helmets. No cares. Wind tossing our blonde locks, and gnats pelting our perpetually grinning freckled faces. So it was during the summers of our early teen years, Andy and I careening around the town of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania.

Istockphoto.com/Thomas Perkins

Then one day we started down an alley between two buildings in town. It was a steep, ramp-like asphalt alley, extending from the old brick firehouse on our left, to the adjoining building about eight feet away. We had taken this shortcut before . . . but never had there been a car parked at the bottom of the alley!

Andy stomped on the breaks, but collision was unavoidable. Although bicycles built circa World War II were made in the fashion of a Sherman tank, the human skull was designed by our Creator with the assumption that its owner would possess enough underlying brainpower to avoid collisions with hard objects. I was young, however, and with brainpower still in its formative stages, I needed someone older and wiser to counsel me and set boundaries; someone who recognized the danger of my activities. This is the job of a parent.

Although no one wore bike helmets when I was a child, their use is now mandated by law in many states. While we could debate whether it is appropriate for the state to legislate such safety measures, no one should argue the fact that as parents we are to be actively involved in protecting our children from harm. Nurturing and protecting our children is a God-given responsibility that we should take seriously. Making sure helmets are worn while riding bikes is just one of many precautions we ought to enforce.

Safety precautions should actually begin at birth, and are not always as intuitive as one would think. The evidence is clear, for example, that lying neonates on their back or side, and on a firm sleeping surface free of stuffed animals, etc., helps prevent suffocation, and likely helps decrease the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In the classic test of King Solomon’s wisdom (I Kings 3), he had to determine which mother killed her child when she rolled over on the child during the night. Sad to say, that risk to babies is no less today than it was then. Moms, as tempting as it is, don’t sleep with your newborns, and get them used to sleeping on their backs! (Okay, it’s confession time. Our children always seemed to sleep better on their bellies. However, I didn’t know then what I know now. . . .)

Almost a third of deaths in the toddler age group are due to car crashes, so please be sure your children are properly restrained in a car seat. Review your state’s car and booster seat laws, and abide by them!

By the way, simply buckling your child in a car seat is not good enough. Make sure the car seat is fastened appropriately to the underlying bench! Recently I loaded the kids into our 15-passenger van, asking one of the older children to be sure our 4-year-old, Daniel, was buckled in. Rounding a corner, I heard a thump, and Daniel began screaming. It was one of those hair-raising, palpitation-inducing shrieks only heard when life or limb is in jeopardy. Totally unnerved, I came to a screeching halt (fortunately on a country back road), and turned around to see Daniel’s car seat wedged sideways against the bay doors. Although he was buckled securely in the seat, the seat was not fastened to the bench! I turned angrily to the sibling who had belted him in, ready to unload a biting reprimand—but instead bit my lip. As the parent and the driver, I was the one ultimately responsible for my passengers’ safety.

Indeed, both as a child, and in parenting my own children, I’ve made some stupid choices. Sometimes I wonder how anyone survives to adulthood! In the next article, I will discuss other common areas of danger for our children, reminisce about a few personal experiences, and list some simple things we as parents can do to minimize the risk of injury or death for our children.

About the author

An HSLDA board member since 1997, Dr. Rodger Sayre is a family physician, and his wife Mary is a registered nurse. They live in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, and teach their 11 children at home. Dr. Sayre received his medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and maintains board certification in family practice. A Geisinger Medical Group associate with a busy practice in Nicholson, Pennsylvania, he is a member of the Christian Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Please Note

The views of guest columnists may not reflect the views of Home School Legal Defense Association.