Guest Post: Safety Third

My little family just got home from a lake day on our friends’ boat. With two toddlers, so… yeah. You can leave your congratulatory messages in the comments below.

They actually did really well, considering it was their first time. They were totally fine with zooming on the boat, and very adventurous when it came time to swim in the water. We had breakfast and lunch on the boat, with zooming, sunshine, and swimming in between. Both girls were completely wiped out by the time we left the lake.

The first thing we did was put life jackets on the girls, because we’re not dummies. They both wore them all day. But when we noticed Milly’s was so puffy she looked like she was wearing a car accident neck brace, we contemplated not zipping it all the way up, at least at first. Our friend said, “Safety first!” 

My reply? “Well, our motto is really more like ‘Safety Third.’ We usually say: Fun first, Comfort second, and somewhere after that is Safety. Probably third.”

While I was definitely trying to goad my friend into a playful argument, I also really meant it. I think safety is important, but I really don’t think it is the MOST important thing. Sometimes you get hurt while you’re doing something fun, and while it may be painful or inconvenient at the time, you end up with a great story (and possibly an interesting scar!) to tell for years to come.

That doesn’t mean that all safety precautions go out the window for the sake of fun. It’s just that when I weigh the risks versus benefits of an activity, I may put a little more emphasis on the benefits and a little less emphasis on the risks.

Milly doesn’t have to stay right by my side in a park. She needs the indepence time, my iPhone has a zoom function, and the benches at the edge of the park can be surprisingly comfy.

Milly does have to hold my hand in a parking lot. Duh.

Milly gets to ride on the ATV when we go look at our cows. But we go slow(ish), and really we’re just avoiding the uber-yucky ticks and chiggers.

Milly can talk to strangers at the bank.

Milly can ride on the back of the Walmart cart, no matter what that little seat flap in the front says.

Milly can’t jump on the couch. (Let’s be honest. I say that’s about safety, but it’s really because I want my couch to stay in decent condition.)

Milly doesn’t have to wear shoes in the yard, or sometimes not even on our country roads. Keeping Band Aid in business, singlehandedly.

Milly can climb on things that might tip over. What better way to learn about balance and risk?

Milly can play in the water when it rains so much our creek floods our road.

Milly gets to sample the driveway gravel from time to time. Hopefully one day she’ll agree with me that it is gross.

Milly gets to walk around the house with a blanket on her head. Yes, she always bumps into walls and furniture. 

Living with Safety Third as our motto isn’t always easy. I get worried, and it’s hard not to stop her from what may cause a scraped knee or stubbed toe. But like I keep saying to Milly’s various grandmas: She seems to be pretty happy, and she has yet to die or anything. So we’re going to stick with it for now.

PS: For those of you that have been worried throughout this entire post… we did keep the life jacket zipped up, all day. Feel free to breathe a sigh of relief.

Rhonda Fisher lives with her daughter and husband in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, on a 40 acre farm filled with cows, horses, dogs, pigs, chickens, a peacock, a donkey, and a goat. Before her daughter Milly came along, Rhonda was a first grade teacher for 8 years. You can read more of her work on and