28 April 2017

Trying to Figure Out Why This Commercial Bugs Me

When I first saw this commercial I appreciated the girl-power-ness of it, being a mom myself who cruises through the neighborhood in a black car with a daughter who's going through a black-and-purple phase (and who never had much of a pink phase to begin with). My daughter would definitely choose the black and purple paint and peel into the driveway if given the opportunity.



But then I realized, these girls appear to be my daughter's age or older, and they are riding Big Wheels with helmets. They are riding Big Wheels, a toddler toy. And they are wearing helmets while they ride huge plastic three-wheelers close to the ground with very little risk of falling. Are we so overcautious that helmets on Big Wheels is a thing now? And why aren't they riding bicycles? Or skateboards? Something a little less babyish?

Maybe I'm so involved in our own style of parenting that we've missed Big Wheels for 6, 7, 8 year olds being a thing now. Our six year old is excited to go mountain biking this weekend (with her helmet on, of course). A friend's six year old just had a skateboarding birthday party on the halfpipe the dad built in their backyard (with their helmets on, of course). Are we the odd parents out? Or are commercials reflecting some nonexistent overly protective society that they think parents want to see?

***

I wrote the above a few days ago. Since then I've Googled "helmets on Big Wheels" and I've found that, yes, many parents insist on their toddlers wearing helmets on Big Wheels, when riding in wagons being pulled by an adult, and some parents have rules about helmets when kids are on anything with wheels. While I can understand this for some circumstances, at some point doesn't it seem overprotective for the general population of toddlers? The risk of a fall from a Big Wheel bike is slim. Most toddlers aren't going to be allowed to leave their yards or driveways without adult supervision so there's no risk of being hit by a car on the street. Many parents monitor their children outside even in their own yards so the risk of any danger is very, very low. Parents argue that helmet wearing is a good habit for children to start as young as possible and I agree with that for certain activities. Riding a bike, even a balance bike. Skateboards and scooters. Anything that requires a certain amount of balance and coordination. At some point though aren't we going a bit too far in wrapping our kids up and protecting them from every single bit of pain and discomfort? By making them think the world is always dangerous but if you always take these precautions everything will always be okay?

I also learned that some states require helmets any time a child is on public property on a foot-powered vehicle. So a parent cannot decide that it's safe for their three or four year old to ride a Big Wheel on a dirt path in a park without a helmet.

Let me point out again that the children in this commercial are not toddlers. They are old enough to have the balance and coordination to be on bicycles or scooters. I can sort of understand the visual because the Big Wheel moves more slowly so is more of a cruising vehicle than a bicycle. Every child I know who's around my daughter's age, if given a Big Wheel to ride, they'd be in the backyard crashing them into each other for fun because it's a babyish safety toy. I'd rather see this girl cruising by on a skateboard. Or rolling into the parking lot at the park on a mountain bike, pulling up to her mom's car, speeding past the girls with pink streamers on their bikes, if that's the message they're trying to get across. Why put them on toddler toys?

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