My son used to talk about a "Nation of Nancys" meaning the state of affairs in this coutry whereby no one lets kids do anything anymore that might result in some liability issue--no running around free in the woods or neighborhoods, no treeforts built on a whim, no exploring without adult supervision. Many things that, as a mother, I understand, but still...I remember my own childhood and the many things I did that could have resulted in injury or worse, but I survived, learning some valuable life lessons that I wouldn't have from merely being told the possibilities. As kids, we humans have a sense of invulnerability that make it possible to try new things without fear. Sometimes we get hurt, but with luck, it's not serious and we go on, a little more carefully.
I know there have also been serious crippling injuries and death--a young man from my teen years dove off a pier and broke his neck--he lived, but is in a wheelchair to this day. There are many stories of bad injuries and deaths from childhood accidents, so I know it's not something to take lightly.
My main complaint today is the liability issue. I also remember my brother in Scouts and the troop had adopted several elderly folks who lived in their own homes, but couldn't take care of the lawn and outside work anymore. The boys would go weekly to mow the lawn and weed the flowers, and everyone was happy. One boy tripped and skinned his knee one time, but no one sued the old homeowner who helped him wash the scrape and put a band-aid on it. The boy got back up and continued raking the leaves.
As a Girl Scout, we did similar things and no one got sued. We actually helped people who needed help.
This week, I ran into a friend who hasn't been able to mow her significant yard--the weeds are three feet tall. Both her knees are swollen with arthritis and she can barely manage to keep her job, much less manage the grounds of her small farm. She'd be happy to just have a path mowed to her fenced garden patch so she can grow some veggies to supplement her food budget. I thought of the boy scouts and went to considerable effort to track down a nearby troop--I had to eventually leave a message with the district leader--finding that person was like pulling teeth, virtually anyway, but they responded quicly to my message.
Unfortunately, they don't do personal assistance things anymore, due to liability issues. They are restricted to community services like cleaning up and taking care of public parks and things. They also have trouble finding a place for the troops to meet because of liability issues--none of the businesses want to have that responsibility of having Boy Scouts meet in their buildings.
While I'm glad they are still out there doing community service in some way at all, I think it's such a sad thing that we've come to this situation in the world.
Maybe out there somewhere is a group of adults who still do personal service volunteering--I'll keep looking. But I wish we'd find some way to get rid of the sue-happy attitudes and learn to (and teach our kids to) take responsibility again for our own actions.
Meanwhile, I think I'll take the weedwacker over to my friend's house and trim away some of the weeds for her. I can take a first step towards not being a "Nancy" (no offense to all you real women named Nancy out there--it's something someone else came up with!)