Fun is dangerous. Kids are dangerous. Trees are dangerous. Playgrounds are dangerous. Adults are dangerous. Knives are dangerous. Friends are dangerous. Nature is dangerous.
Life is dangerous.
Fortunately there are responsible adults out there who are working hard to take the danger out of life for kids. You may have heard about this mall in British Columbia that is making life safer for kids by removing their indoor play structure in favour of a wall of iPads for kids to play with. Apparently they feel that “providing slides and things for climbing leads to much more active play and can result in children being hurt.” Damn right it leads to more active play.
This story made me think about all the stupid things I did as a kid, some of which resulted in me getting hurt.
Malls are of course under no obligation to provide play space for kids and many malls offer nothing for kids other than fantastic shopping opportunities and stores that let you actually buy an iPad. I think it is ridiculous that this particular mall opted to replace their play equipment with a wall of iPads. Why not just close the area down and put in a store or something. Don’t pretend that you are offering something unique and exciting. Parents go to malls with play structures so that their kids can burn off some steam and the parents can get a break from chasing them around the house. This is particularly helpful in the winter when it is too cold to play outside. Now Surrey, BC is not prone to cold winters, but they do get loads of rain and indoor play during the rainy season is also helpful.
As adults we spend too much time trying to prevent kids from getting hurt. Kids need to be able to take risks and learn from them. They learn what they can accomplish and build confidence and new skills and they learn that they shouldn’t go down fire poles upside down when they land on their head.
I have a “friend” who did that exact thing on the day his mother was leaving the country for a month or two. I can’t remember exactly how long she was gone as a result of the head injury… err, I mean my friend can’t remember.
That is the first dumb/adventurous thing I can remember doing as a kid. In my defence I had done the same thing the day before and in the process had flipped over and landed on my feet. A pretty cool trick for a five year old. Fortunately I did it at the home of a friend who’s mother was a nurse.
Lessons I Learned as a Kid
1. When carving a piece of wood with a giant knife, you should always keep the knife moving away from you, otherwise there will be blood.
2. Racing tricycles can result in impressive crashes and lots of bloody knuckles and knees
3. Riding bikes over jumps can sometimes result in the front wheels coming off the bike when in mid-air and you guessed it – blood.
4. Throwing rocks at bees’ nests is highly inadvisable. No blood, but stings are a likely outcome.
5. Stepping off the fire pole platform at school without grabbing the platform can result in unconsciousness. (Totally different fire pole from the first story) No blood that I can remember in this incident.
6. Attempting to stand on a plastic toboggan at the top of a hill may result in said toboggan being set in motion and a broken wrist. In my father’s case doing the same thing with a wooden toboggan may lead to a broken shoulder.
7. Racing toboggans – especially wooden ones that break shoulders – can result in collisions that come close to removing the eyes of other kids.
8. It is uncomfortable having a burning marshmallow affixed to your cheek.
9. Relighting a gas hibachi bbq without opening the lid to let the built up gas escape first will enable the gas to open the lid itself as it ignites and turns into a fireball heading in your direction.
10. Standing on a snow mound – the kind that has been partially removed by plows – and using a shovel to remove one’s self from said mound can result in unconsciousness and hospitalization. No fire pole necessary.
11. Swimming in the ocean can result in being stung by jelly fish. The main lessons learned in this case are that urinating on said sting or applying vasoline since it has an ingredient which is a meat tenderizer can help reduce the swelling. The vasoline will also result in a very shiny red leg.
12. Jumping off of cliffs into rivers can result in particularly uncomfortable wedgies.
13. Attempting to extinguish a burning nylon rope by shaking it does not put out the flame, but it does scatter molten bits of nylon rope, which will result in scaring.
14. Using wood chisels improperly can cause bleeding and scaring.
15. Trying to remove a leaf from bike spokes with your foot while the bike is in motion can result in spectacular summersaults and potentially a broken collarbone.
I learned to be who I am today through these experiences and many more where I didn’t get hurt – or not too badly hurt. I faced fears of heights while climbing ever higher in trees and jumping off of cliffs into rivers. I learned how to handle a bike while doing crazy things on my bikes as a kid. I learned how to watch out for hazards by running over friends with toboggans. I learned about fire safety by lighting things on fire – usually around a campfire. I learned to take precautions as a result of injuries I sustained. I learned not to go down a fire pole upside down.
We need to give kids space to play and take risks so they can learn the same lessons we did as kids.
What was the craziest thing you did as a kid that would give you a heart attack if you knew your kids were doing the same thing?