Life isn’t just a photo opportunity

Today was Parents Day at our daughter’s YMCA day camp. Usually, she takes the camp bus, but I drove her this morning, and we went canoeing.

The lake where we went canoeing (picture taken when we toured the camp in April).

It was a good morning — kind of overcast, but that was OK, because it kept things cool. The camp is next to a lake, and there were probably 100 other parents on the beach, noshing on bagels and pastries and waiting with their kids for a turn on the water. While we stood barefoot in the sand, my 10-year-old pointed out girls she knew (including “the mean one”) and, suddenly, I remembered:

I forgot my camera.

For someone who enjoys taking pictures as much as I do, that’s a bad feeling. I thought, here we are, my daughter and me, having this little adventure, and we won’t have any pictures.

Then, I remembered something I’d told my mom years ago, when our daughter was still a baby and Mom wouldn’t stop taking pictures of her:

This isn’t a photo op. Put down the camera and just enjoy yourself.

I treasure our family pictures. If the house was on fire, and I could save one thing, I’d save our pictures and videos. It’s easy to forget how fast our kids are growing up until I come across an old picture, or not even an old picture. Pictures remind me how much they’ve changed since last summer, since Christmas, even.

Still, I should remember to forget my camera more often and just enjoy myself.

Before we pushed out into the water, one of the camp counselors called out, “Smile!” and snapped our picture. (Do digital cameras snap?) The Y does a good job of posting pictures on the camp website. I told my wife. She’ll want to see it, because she couldn’t be there, but I was.

We’re a nation of klutzes

Here’s my train of thought: I was reading the Codger’s blog the other day. He referred to a sofa as a “davenport,” and I remembered an alarming statistic I read a few years ago:

Over 130,000 Americans a year are injured by sofas, couches or davenports.

It’s in the 2006 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States — and, yes, it specifically mentions davenports.

I’d looked up “Injuries Associated with Selected Consumer Products” after reading Bill Bryson’s book, I’m a Stranger Here Myself.

In the book, Bryson mentions flipping through the Statistical Abstract and being surprised to discover that, at the time, something like 400,000 Americans were being injured every year by beds, mattresses or pillows.

It seemed impossible that so many people couldn’t lie down without hurting themselves, so I looked up the statistics myself. That’s when I discovered that over 130,000 people a year also fail at sitting or lying on a sofa, couch or davenport.

We’re not talking minor injuries here. These are injuries serious enough to send the victim to the emergency room.

Every once in a while, something comes up like the Codger’s reference to davenports that reminds me of the Statistical Abstract and makes me wonder whether we’ve gotten any less klutzy.

We haven’t.

The 2010 edition of the Statistical Abstract came out a few weeks ago.

First of all, I was disappointed to discover that the U.S. government no longer tracks the number of people hurt by sofas, couches, or davenports (no doubt bowing to pressure from the powerful sofa, coach and davenport lobby).

Second, it turns out we’re doing an even worse job of lying down successfully than we did when Bryson’s book came out 11 years ago.

Back then, the number of bed- or bedding-related injuries was around 400,000 a year. Today, it’s 532,000.

That’s more than are hurt by household packaging and containers (205,000),  footware (155,000), and hammers (35,000) combined. (How do you hurt yourself with a household container, anyway?)

But wait. It gets worse. According to the Abstract:

  • 319,000 people a year are hurt by chairs
  • 305,000 injure themselves while trying to walk through doors
  • 60,000 are seriously wounded by TVs

I know. We’re a nation of 300 million. Sixty thousand people out of 300 million is a tiny fraction. It’s statistically insignificant, a rounding error.

Still, 60,000 people a year — people who probably are allowed to drive, people who vote — managed to get hurt by objects that sit there and don’t actually do anything.

It’s scary. Every time you leave the house, there’s a fair chance you’ll cross paths with someone who’s so clumsy he or she can’t even watch TV without getting hurt. It’s enough to make me want to stay in and lock the doors — if I didn’t think I might hurt myself in the process.