A friend was visiting us in New Zealand recently from the United States. Of all the differences she could have picked up on, the thing that just floored her was the lack of shoes on so many of the kids here. She noticed that more than half the kids running out of my sons classroom at 3pm were sans shoes and it wasn’t even the fact that it was the middle of winter that shocked her, but that, as a lawyer she found it “insane” that the school allowed kids to go without shoes. “What if a child cuts their foot on something, the school would be liable!”
Obviously, I had to laugh because before I moved here I would have shared the same sentiment, had I given the issue any thought. It is times like these that I am reminded; it really is a whole other world down here. Living in a country with state funded healthcare means, not only do you not have to have insurance at all if you can't afford it, but also if someone has an accident, there is no one to sue because the government has it covered. This is huge. Schools don’t have to worry about a kid breaking an arm on the monkey bars or cutting their feet on the playground, because there is no reason to sue the school, nothing to gain. In fact, it’s almost impossible trying to sue anyone for anything here.
I don’t mean to suggest that the schools are happy to let kids injure themselves, but being okay with everyday bumps and bruises that kids amass, just from exploring the world, does mean that kids have the freedom to become more comfortable in their bodies to learn that if they fall, it will hurt, if they are cut, they will bleed. For a child, learning what it means to be frail and human is no mean feat.