posted on Mar, 31 2009 @ 08:53 PM
In 1990, when i was an energetic young man, my fondest memories include romping about the woods with one or two of my closest friends. In those days,
it seemed like we found a new secret fort weekly, climbed trees as high as the stars, and the days success could be measured by how many scrapes,
bruises, and grass stains were on our person.
I recently went back to the woods where i grew up playing. Half of the trees were cut down to make way for new developments, but I still made an
adventure out of it, finding the old places that had looked so big and new to me when i was young. As I was extricating myself from a particularly
thorny path that branched off the main path, I noticed a man walking along the main path with his two young boys in tow. Now I'll admit that I must
have looked a bit like a crazed man, what with bits of leaves in my hair, a couple of rips in my t-shirt form the thorns, etc. The man instinctively
pushed his children behind me and edged around me almost furtively, never saying a word.
Strangely, the inner workings of my own mind got to thinking... did those kids have the opportunities that my friends and I had, to explore new and
exciting things? Or were they, like far too many children nowadays, limited by the perceived "safety" issues drilled into far too many parents'
An incident came to mind: I had been over my friend's house, sitting on the front porch and talking about who knows what, when we both noticed that
the neighbor's little boy had started climbing a tree. He got about three feet off the ground, and fell off into the grass...
...I warn you, those with squeamish dispositions: this next part won't be pretty, discretion is advised...
... And with a sickening CRACK!...
Just kidding. But I bet at least some of you readers were thinking the worst.
The only crack came from the child's mother rushing out, screaming at the top of her lungs, with a bottle of peroxide in one hand and a small
household medical kit in the other. "BOBBY (I use a generic name so as to preserve anonymity) OH MY GOD BOBBY YOU SCARED ME TO DEATH ARE YOU OKAY DID
YOU BREAK YOU ARM OH JESUS! AND YOU TWO, TWO GROWN MEN LETTING A CHILD PUT HIS LIFE IN DANGER, SHAME ON YOU!"
Now I was perplexed. How can a three foot fall onto soft soil excite such comment?
I think Hara Estroff Marano said it the best in her book title, "A Nation of Wimps".
How can parents treat children like prized antique china, and expect them to learn practical lessons of any kind? What happens when they get to
college, and god forbid make their own decisions? ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE.
I hope you, the intrepid reader, see the point I'm getting at. A child's education goes beyond learning their numbers, writing book reports, and
learning how to use modern technology. Children need to earn character, by falling and scraping themselves, losing a competition, getting lost in a
two square acre expanse of woodland.
My own next door neighbor, when posed the question of whether or not she smacks her children as a disciplinary tool, looked at me like I was a three
headed baby eating monster and said incredulously "Do I look like an abusive parent?".
This is a message for all those who will listen. A kid is what you were however many years ago. They wont get more delicate with age (If anything, you
might be contributing to their getting a little more padding if you know what I mean), and they have an innate need to explore their environment,
experience a fall or two, and above all BE KIDS!
So don't leash your child to a computer or television. Don't teach them to be the oh so popular and disgusting "armchair warrior" (I hate that
term). Let them teach themselves a few things. You might be surprised at how much innate wisdom they have in their little heads.