Monday, July 3, 2017

The Death of Risk, Adventure, and Accountability in Our Lives

This article, entitled, "23 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do", prompted me to pause and think. Here are the 23 things that the article advocates:

Play with fireworks
Hammer a nail
Stick your arm out a car window
Jump off a cliff
Use a bow and arrow
Cook a meal
Climb a tree
Roughhouse
Go sledding
Drive a car
Burn things with a magnifying glass
Walk or ride a bike to school
Shoot a gun
Stand on a roof
Squash a penny on a railroad track
Sword fight with sticks
Shoot a slingshot
Explorer a construction site
Use a pocket knife
Climb a rope
Ride your bike off a ramp
Make a fire
Explore a tunnel

Give my Mom and Dad credit for letting me do all 23 of these, and many more. For example, two blocks from our house was the boundary of forest and wilderness and BLM land that covered over 21,000 square miles. But starting in the 6th grade, 12 years old, Jim Dunlap, Chris Rossmiller and I would don our canvas backpacks loaded with canvas tents and sleeping bags, and cans of beans, and we would walk into that forest to camp and explore for the weekend. We weighed less than the packs. Going backpacking in that expansive forest was adventure and risk enough, but our adventures and shenanigans once inside that forest were the real risks.
That was only a small part of the many things our parents allowed... like building a ski jump off of the roof in the 5th grade. (I need to write more of these stories down for Anna and Luke.)
Despite having lost two of their beloved six children to tragic accidents, they let me, the youngest of those six, lead a life that my personality required. They could have easily hovered and overprotected me, but they let me be me. Now as a parent, I cannot imagine the courage and faith that they possessed to do that... you can be sure that they talked about it and had sleepless nights about it... but I'm endlessly grateful that they did. God bless them, both. 💚
Parents today almost can't allow for this sort of upbringing, for fear of being condemned, sued, or arrested. We live in a messed-up time now, where we try to reduce all risks in life, no matter how unlikely, and we'll pass laws to make sure you do. Thanks to lawyers who stoke and thrive on irrational fear, and to people who, if they suffer an accident or injury, blame everyone else, or reach for a cell phone and call for a helicopter to evacuate them when they should've been better prepared and conditioned in the first place. Had Jim, Chris, or me become lost or injured, our parents would not have been condemned by the local community in Durango, or threatened with arrest for child endangerment. They would have been supported for allowing that way of life. That was the norm.
I'm going to try my best to give Anna and Luke the freedom to be who they need to be. It wont' be easy because, to some degree, I've been conditioned and softened by the society we live in, too. To hell with that. 😀

Sage Advice & Coincidences

Our Aunt Harriet Pyle Manuel wrote this to me in my high school graduation card. I didn't get it back then, but I learned to get it as I...