Cracks in the Sidewalk: A Child’s Natural Predator

Since the dawn of pavement, there has been no greater threat to small children than any gap or crack in a sidewalk. Unofficial studies show that these relatively minor and completely avoidable obstructions cause roughly 105% of all skinned knees. All they do is ruin things. Once joyful walks get reduced to tearful treks home. Tricycle rides become a never ending gauntlet of speed bumps. Heaven help you if you hit one on a Big Wheel, that plastic front tire don’t stand a chance.

When my kids were first learning to walk it was not a question of if they would trip and fall on a crack in the side walk, but of how far away from home we would be when the tragedy would strike. The answer more often than not, was very. True, I’ve seen my kids trip and fall down doing such difficult activities as turning left, but a concrete obstacle course certainly isn’t doing them any favors.

Once walking was more or less mastered, next came the impulse to run. What could go wrong when a little person who doesn’t yet have the coordination to get a spoonful of yogurt more than 75% of the way in their mouth decides to flap their lower limbs to see how fast they go? They may not be able to run fast but they sure can go from giggles to tears in less than a second and you’re now carrying a screaming toddler down the street. Which is never a good look for a parent.

Most of the time when a kid falls they are completely fine. The sidewalk, however, is out for blood. Best case scenario there are just some scrapes, but sooner or later there is a cut with visible blood that will need a bandaid. This is the small child equivalent of an amputation, except I am fairly certain the amputee never demands the doctor use a princess bandage to close the wound after surgery.

Now we’ve started to graduate to tricycle. We recently made a trip around the block one crack in the sidewalk at a time. Every protruding piece of concrete stopping us dead in our tracks, my daughters weak little legs not strong enough on the pedals to force the tiny wheel over anything larger than, well, anything. Every few houses we’d come upon the dreaded slab that had been forced out of place by a tree root and now shot up a good 2 or 3 inches. Might as well have been the Great Wall of China.

It is equally frustrating for kids and parents alike. All the kid wants to do is be able to make their way around the neighborhood without being undercut a cement menace. All a parent wants is for their kid to look where the hell they are going. As it was in the beginning, and forever shall be.

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