Last week, on Thursday, Benjamin had a crash on his bike. He’s completely ok. But, he crashed into the corner of a building. Into the corner of a STONE building, and the first thing to hit was his head. He wasn’t going super fast, but he was going fast enough that when he lost control of his bike he traveled about 10 feet without being able to stop and without being able to keep from crashing headfirst into a building. I think it could have been bad.
I wasn’t there. Dan was with him — it happened on the way home from school. Afterwards, B was freaked out and shaken up a bit, but his head didn’t even hurt. His helmet, however, had an impressive dent in the side. A dent, in the hard plastic.
That could have been his head.
I’m a religious about helmets. It comes from years and years and years of horseback riding. It comes from having experienced dozens, if not hundreds, of falls, and walking away from them . . . and knowing that without a helmet, I might not have. I’ve landed on fences, rocks, frozen ground, jumps and just plain old packed dirt. I’ve had some very scary falls. (I even had a horse throw me in front of him and then jump over me — I had the wind knocked out of me but landed face up and got to actually watch him jump over.) I’ve been very lucky to have escaped serious injury in every case.
Some of it, surely, has been luck. But I know that having a helmet on EVERY SINGLE TIME certainly didn’t hurt the outcome. I’ve seen people who have not been so lucky and I’ve seen people who would have died if they hadn’t had a helmet on. I take it very seriously.
So, when Benjamin started riding a “real” bike, and when he started riding outside, on roads and sidewalks, I insisted on a helmet. Every time. Even though he’s little, even though we’re always with him, even though he doesn’t go very fast. At the very least, it’s a good habit to set up from the beginning, and at most, it could save him from a serious injury. Which it probably did. He was riding on a sidewalk, away from cars, only a few feet from his Dad. But he went fast, wobbled, lost control and crashed. And he’s ok.
Friday morning, we went to get him a new helmet — no question. The dented helmet was retired (with a ton of thanks) and we got a new one. (Once a helmet has been in a crash — and a dent denotes a serious crash — it gets replaced. Period.) We went to the shop and tried on several. After years of teaching horseback riding, I feel confident in my ability to fit a helmet. (As always, it’s refreshing to feel like I’m really good at doing something — around here, those things seem to happen so infrequently.) I got them all adjusted and checked the fit. Then, once I had it narrowed down to two acceptable styles, I let him choose the color (green, with stars).
Yes, it was expensive to replace his helmet. And if he’d had another crash on Saturday, we would have replaced it again. I don’t know how badly hurt he would have been without his helmet last Thursday, but I don’t intend to find out in the future. I’m so grateful he had his helmet on, and, as long as I can insist upon it effectively, he will have on one every time he’s on his bike. Always.