Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the paper trail: Hard-boiled lawyers made sure no kids could participate in this year's University of California, Berkeley's campus Easter egg hunt without their parents' first signing a waiver.
Before the tykes were ushered toward the roped-off grass, parents stood in line for up to half an hour to hand in the official form for the "25th Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Learning Festival." (God forbid the kids just have fun.) According to the waiver, the undersigned agreed that "Participation in The Activity carries with it certain risks that cannot be eliminated regardless of the care taken to avoid injuries." These risks ranged from "1) minor injuries, such as scratches, bruises and sprains" to "2) major injuries such as eye injury or loss of sight, joint or back injuries, heart attacks, and concussions to 3) catastrophic injuries including paralysis and death."
Are they hunting Easter eggs or landmines?
"Goodness gracious," said Robert Strand, lecturer at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and executive director of the school's Center for Responsible Business. Strand was at the event with his wife and kids, ages 5 and 2. "Once you signed, you got the tickets and then you walk over to these three different roped-off areas for kids of different ages and literally it was a flat grass surface where they would just place the eggs."
Each kid was allowed to pick up five of these plastic, hollow, nontoxic eggs, said Strand, "which was completed within a minute, because they were just placed there." Then they could trade in the "eggs" for candy.
On the one hand, Strand said, "I'm glad they put this event on." It brought a lot of families to the campus, which made for a lovely afternoon. But the emphasis on the potential risks of Easter egg-hunting scrambled his brains. "We're in Scandinavia for a chunk of the summer, and our kids just run around at parks," he said. "They're jumping off things, and some of our friends there say we should be grateful for the small accidents, because then we learn from them, and that prevents the big accidents."
Yeah, say the lawyers. Tell that to Humpty Dumpty.
Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of "Has the World Gone Skenazy?" To learn more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.