It’s never good when your kids start a conversation with that line.
Several months ago the girls were asking me how I made the decision when it is OK to go flying and when it is better to wait. So we got into this long discussion about Risk Management and risk/benefit analysis. I’ll admit that I might have gotten too deep into the topic for a 6, 8, and 10 year old to understand. However, they were asking good questions and wanted to know more about why and how I know it is OK to do something. Apparently most of our conversation sunk in and they have transferred that knowledge into their decision making process. Here is how I know.
Every fall we enjoy spending time with friends in Port Alsworth on Lake Clark. The girls really enjoy playing with their friends along the shoreline. Lyndy and I have established a few rules for their safety and our sanity. 1. Stay within the operating limitations of your equipment, or don’t go into the water any deeper than the top of your boots. I know, you are laughing because how futile it is to tell them that. 2. Proper safety equipment must be used at all times, translation, do not go out on the dock unless you have your life jacket on. 3. No solo operations without the proper sign off, in other words you must have an adult with you in the canoe.
One afternoon I looked out the window and saw several kids on the dock and a boat with Natalie in it by herself quite a distance out in the lake. I took a deep breath and counted to 10 faster than you can imagine and started walking down to find out what was going on. Sabrina sees me walking towards the dock and starts running to me shouting; “Its OK Daddy, don’t worry, we are all about risk management!” I could not believe what I was hearing and had to turn around so she could not see me laughing. About the time she got to me I was able to hide my laughter and have a serious expression on my face. I asked her to explain what she meant as we continued to walk out to the end of the dock. She proceeded to tell me that she knew that it seems that they were disobeying the rules but that she thought that they had mitigated (she actually used the word mitigated) the risk that the rule was there for. Oh really I said. She then explained to me that the reason for the “no solo rule” was to make sure that someone would not get into the seaplane lane and that the wind would not sweep them out of the bay. I had to give her credit for that, she was right. Then Miriam explained to me how the 50 foot rope they tied to the dock and canoe would allow them to quickly pull the canoe back and out of any danger. I asked what kind of knot they used and she responded with, “a bowline of course!” It gets better. Natalie pipes up and says “we talked about it and decided that the benefits out weighed the risk”. So with pride welling up in me that my girls might have actually understood some of what we had talked about I reminded them that they still needed to talk to the person that established the rule to confirm that the mitigations are adequate. I will admit that I caved and allowed them to have their fun and walked away laughing…