Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everything is Dangerous - Letter to a Home Town

Way Back in the 70's


Everything is Dangerous These Days

US Doctors Say Trampolines are a Danger toKidsUmmm ok. I have to wonder: Is there some new risk with trampolines that makes this newsworthy? Have strange trampolines started stalking our kids, following them home from school, offering them candy? Do doctors in Canada feel the same way? If more parents taught their kids the Five Little Monkeys song would fewer heads be bumped? Is anything considered safe these days?

Wow. I suddenly feel old. I am on the verge of one of those ‘Back in my day’ rants where the crazy old lady goes on about how when we were kids our parents let us roam like wild chickens, trusting that our pea sized brains would lead us back to roost at night. If I am not careful I will follow that up with a tale of how there was no crime and everyone was happy and fit and how it would still be that way if it wasn’t for the fact that Scooby Doo and those meddling kids quit going to church.

It is true that back my day I didn’t have a trampoline. I wasn’t allowed to jump on the beds either. (Strangely enough, I don’t remember being warned about hurting myself, just about breaking the bed.) When it came to finding means of potentially injury I was left to my own devices. I did things like tie a rope between two tree tops and try to scale across. I tested the thickness of ice by kicking through it. I was confident that bales of hay and stunt landing pads were interchangeable. I was a free range kid to the extreme and I survived for the most part unscathed. (As a parent I look back and wonder how).

Ideally our kids get the benefit of learning from our mistakes. In turn they get to make a whole new set of their own, thereby advancing into adulthood twice as mature and well adjusted as we did. (But wait… That would mean admitting to all that dumb stuff we did and they might tell our parents. Never mind.)

Left to their own device, the dumb stuff kids do has real world consequences, most of which are not a matter of life or death. Doing things and experiencing the consequences teaches how to navigate through fears and illustrates the difference between real and perceived risk. Fear has a lot of sway in the choices we make all through life, so this is a good skill to have.

Now my caveat: survival to spite youthful ignorance regarding the true danger of a given action is not good reason to let your own kids do the same dumb stuff. Kids, do not kick through ice to test its thickness. Trust me. Walking home in winter boots filled with water is no fun and I am glad I was close to the bank. Also, bales of hay are a close approximation to a stunt landing pad, but stuntmen have a lot of training (and an ambulance on site).

I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…

6 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more. There are real dangers and then there are the ones that might result in a twisted ankle, and for some reason we seem to think they are equal these days.
    I'm sharing this post on the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest Board

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    1. Thank you for passing this on! As parents I feel that it is important to be thinking and talking about these things - sifting out which fears have basis can help us in teaching our kids how to make informed choices.

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  2. Beautifully put. It's so important to let children make some mistakes and take some risks. Otherwise we are simply delaying that learning until later when it could have far greater consequences. I've featured this post on my blog today as one of my favourites from last week's Sunday Parenting Party. Thanks for linking up.

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    1. I am honored to be featured! Thank you!

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  3. What an excellent post. Beautifully expressed. It's a great reminder that we need to give our kids some breathing room, so they can have some unplanned learning opportunities.

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    1. Thank you! It is hard some times - they are our babies after all...

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