Beware of Summer

Go ahead - just try and relax.

ILLUSTRATION BY brad fitzpatrick

Summertime in NH! A time for fun and relaxation. Relaxation? Maybe if you have no kids! Being the proud parent of a 4- and 6-year-old, summer in NH has its share of fun … and danger.

I hate to admit that I am a little bit of a helicopter parent. But when you really think about it, can you blame me? For starters, my 4-year-old is allergic to mosquitos! Yes, we live in NH and he’s allergic to mosquitos. That’s like living here and being allergic to granite. So the bug spray is a must. But the only really effective sprays contain DEET. Do yourself a favor and don’t Google the dangers of using it. But with mosquitos testing positive for both West Nile Virus and the EEE virus right in my neighborhood, what do you do? And we all know how pleasant your neighborhood ticks can be. And to find out if your kids are allergic to bees, you have to wait until they get stung. Looking forward to that day!

But it’s summer, I’m not gonna keep them inside. So put on the bug spray and the sunscreen (SPF 50), and let’s have a cookout! No danger there, right? Do you know what the number one choking food is? You guessed it, the hot dog! Yes, even the all-natural, nitrate-free, grass-fed, no-GMO beef ones, you can choke on. But let’s get through dinner without an incident and move on to dessert. S’mores! Yes, small kids with sharp sticks, fire and a flaming, sticky, swinging projectile. What could go wrong? I mean, with all the chemicals our kids are already exposed to, you can’t come out with a flame-retardant marshmallow?

"I am a little bit of a helicopter parent. But when you really think about it, can you blame me?"

I had been thinking that the safest place for my kids this summer would be inside a bouncy house. And then I saw the video on YouTube of the bouncy house getting blown 100 feet into the air! That can happen?! Forget about the four-kid maximum, I want an eight-kid minimum, let’s keep that thing on the ground. “Sorry Jack, not enough kids to go in the bouncy house, just ride your bike in the driveway, with your helmet on.” That’s safe, right? As long as the neighbor’s psycho dog doesn’t escape its yard and launch an unprovoked attack. Did you see that video on YouTube? I don’t know if I can count on super cat to jump in and save the day!

So this is the stuff that keeps me up on many summer nights. Well, that and my neighbor lighting off NH’s “legal” fireworks at one in the morning. Oh yes, my neighbor’s August 13th firework display, celebrating … I guess his 15 straight years of non-sobriety has me now awake thinking about my pending trip to Pawtuckaway State Park. My kids don’t know how to swim yet, but the good news is that they won’t be in the water long because the beach regularly gets shut down due to high bacteria levels. Who would think that being roped off with a bunch of toddlers in swimmy diapers could have any health consequences? And we were right in the middle of an intense game of Marco-Ecoli.

But I encourage all of you to relax this summer. Don’t think about the West Nile Virus, EEE, Lyme disease, allergies, choking, melanoma, E. coli, bugs, bites and burns. Because the reality is that almost everything can kill you, including the stress from worrying that everything can kill you. 

When not hovering over his kids with bug spray and Band-Aids, Juston McKinney is a professional comedian:

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