Last week, my preschool-aged son received an invitation to a birthday party. The nice, brightly-colored card sported children’s cartoon characters and a space announcing date, time, and place for the celebration. Along with this proper invite was a serious-looking note, with nothing but the fine print kind of text, including words like, “liability,” “attorney’s fees,” “substantive action.”

The title read “Acknowledgement of Risk.”

This I am supposed to sign, as the party will be held in a local play facility filled with all kinds of air-inflated equipment: slides, obstacle courses, tubes. It’s one of those places where kids can jump and roll around, ensuring spots for themselves as patients of a future chiropractic clinic, before they crack heads with another little guest, resulting in shrill screams and a family’s quick escape to the minivan.

Call me boring, but back in my day, the birthday celebration consisted of sharing a cake-and-ice-cream supper with our neighborhood friends, then racing up and down the sidewalk on bikes in the remaining daylight.

That one of us might end up with a bruised arm from wiping out at the corner, or a bloodied knee from losing control at the handle bars, was just a given. Few friends were involved, and as the party was home-based, little cost was incurred. An injury set us back nothing more than a little peroxide and a few bandages.

No legal document required.

stock xchnge photo by David Ritter