“We used to play ‘Chicken’ with lawn darts,” the guy sitting next to me said.
“That’s why stores don’t sell lawn darts anymore,” the woman next to me commented wryly.
Our children were at synchronized swimming practice, and the parental conversation had begun innocently with television shows from the past. I’m not sure at what point we moved from the Partridge Family to lethal lawn darts, but with three men in the group, the conversation quickly degenerated into ridiculously dumb things everyone did as kids.
It turned out that most of the dumb things were done by the men.
Like filling up the backseat of your car with snow, then driving around the neighborhood and flinging snowballs out the window.
Not quite as dangerous, I grant you, as driving around, lighting fire crackers in your car, and throwing them out. Even more death defying when you forget to open the window, as one of the men admitted.
I rode my bike without a helmet. Oh, and once I let myself fall from the second floor balcony of our apartment. I say that I let myself fall because I had planned to jump from the railing. But when I saw how far down that would be, I did not relish the thought of breaking my legs. So I dangled from the railing and let go. That was about the extent of my self-imposed, death-defying feats.
Listening to the men relate all of their childhood adventures, I wondered if I had missed out by being an overly cautious kid.
But then I remembered the time I dropped a sparkler on my bare feet, and I’m pretty sure I was just smart enough to realize, at a very early age, that when I tempt Fate, Fate invariably burns me.
It is kind of amazing, when you think about all of the safety rules we make our own kids follow – rules that didn’t exist when we were growing up – that any of us made it past puberty.
I wonder if our own kids, brought up without the joy of dancing between falling lawn darts or trying to put fires out in their laps, will rebel against their “safe” youth and decide to run amok while their children, left alone, start leaping from second floor balconies.
Maybe I should lighten up and let my daughter do something unplanned and unsupervised a little more often.
Or just not let her date.