Once upon time I took Talky, then 5, scooting along Sea Point promenade in Cape Town.

Mom, I’m the only one wearing a helmet, I feel retard.

Me [looks around]: Right, take it off.

Once upon time we lived in South Africa, a country without nets. No safety nets provided by the state, no safety nets surrounding trampolines. Preschool kids climbing trees and jumping down. A broken arm here, a broken leg there, bruises, scars and wounds. And chipped teeth with Talky.

Now we live in Finland. A few weeks back we went downhill skiing, me for the first time in ten years, Talky for the first time with skis. In ten years skies have become shorter. These days everybody wears a helmet. Except me.

The rebellious me doesn’t like helmets. Helmets take away my freedom. I want to feel the wind blowing my hair. I’m not going to care about everybody condemning my reckless behaviour. Life in Finland is so risk averse and boxed, I feel an urge to express my freedom by refusing to wear one. Even if that means I’m going to die skiing or cycling. Much prefer that over spending 20 years in diapers in an institution.

Don’t worry, I do make Talky wear a helmet in Finland. I guess I might get social workers after me if I didn’t.

I only wear a helmet when cycling in Cape Town. Which is likely never to happen again.

There are only a few trampolines. There are no trampolines without safety nets.

Finnish kids – compared to South African kids – generally speaking are very very very clumsy. Maybe it’s the Northern climate. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s the cost of good PISA results. Maybe it’s a side product of a netted and helmeted society.


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