Synchronized Parenting

photo credit: splityarn via photopin cc

“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.

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Posted on March 30, 2012, in Family, Humor, Parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. I totally get this – over here we are so ‘overgoverned’ that sometimes it feels like you have to ask for permission to breathe. How the hell did Australia become so goodytwoshoes-ish?

    • I had no idea that Australia is like that! There is such a fine line between safety and freedom; sometimes it’s hard to tell when you have given up too much of one for the other.

  2. It’s the same everywhere. There is a show called Bubble Wrap Kids which shows parents being overly overprotective to the point of not letting them do anything. Sometimes it’s good to just let go: remember no seatbelts in the car, baby cribs with wide slats! And when you see a kid with a lawn dart stuck in his skull it isn’t pretty. But sometimes we have to cut the apron strings and let them learn some things aren’t a good idea. But they will do that anyway unless we lease them for the first 21 years of their lives. You can’t regulate stupidity no matter how many laws are in place.

  3. Sorry lease should have been leash–like tying our kids to us for safety.

  4. In the US we are required to destroy them if found – there is a whole underground movement collecting Jarts – I love a toy that has a label – May be Fatal. http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/PRHTML97/97122.html

  5. Don’t worry. I’m sure she’ll come up with something! Unfortunately, I did a lot of stupid things and sometimes I think I’m better off not knowing the possibilities.

  6. See, and I think kids today are way too restrained when playing.
    Ans way too underrestrained at the mall.

  7. The way things are going in 30 years today’s kids will think they had so much freedom.

  8. It really is sad. My daughter didn’t want to climb very high in the tree in the back yard, and although I don’t want her to get hurt, it made me sad that she wouldn’t risk it. My sisters and I had a lemonade stand on the highway, we climbed in old farm equipment, jumped off buildings, etc. When one of my sisters was about 12, we “borrowed” the car, and she drove it about 3 miles so we could get some candy. We returned safely without being caught/and/or kidnapped. I was 10.

  9. Lawn darts. Yeah, ask my sister about that. She still has the scar. My bad.

    We roamed unsupervised all day long on our farm, did lots of dumb things, and have the scars to prove it. I wonder why today’s parents are so much more fearful than my parents’ generation.

    I’m sure our parents loved us just as much, and having a child injured or killed is every parent’s nightmare. So what changed? Why were our parents okay with letting us take our own risks despite their fears? It would be interesting to hear some conversations between yesterday’s parents and today’s.

  10. Nice post. Reading it made me remember when our Boy Child (then 8) jumped from the top of our (fairly high) brand new treehouse to the ground. My response: Horror. Hubby’s response: “That’s nothin’ compared to the shit I did.” Boy Child was fine and I moved a little more toward the Anti-Helcopter Parent that day (not that I’ve ever been remotely Helicopter, just a little more vigilant than hubby). ;o)

  11. Miranda Gargasz

    You have inspired a new blog post that I can’t wait to write! I will give you a link back to this post when I do it. I think about this crap all the time!

  12. I was an overly cautious kid. I never wanted to climb any trees or jump from things that were too high (but I always wanted to explore old cabins that looked like they could collapse on me. Still do). I don’t know if it was because there are rules or not, though.

  13. DONT YOU DARE LET HER DATE!!!! LOL…. Let her do anything but no dating.. that is dangerous…. LOL…. Take it from me, we used to throw apples at each other, play kill the guy with the ball and then backyard football with no rules (that can get ugly), jump our bikes, ride in snow saucers behind a tractor at tops speed down a dirt road and then hand on to the saucer as we spun donuts with the tractor….. ever been in a saucer that is in the air trying to keep your balance on a dirt road? hehehe…. we blew things up… played war… road our bikes with just shorts on and jumped them, went down huge hills with no hands and played in the peak of barns, walking the main beam with nothing below us for 40 feet… LOL…. of course our parents knew nothing about it… that is nothing compared to dating.. want to live a bit safer.. let her learn how to drive… hehehehe…. or let her get a dozen collies…

    In mirth,
    the plotting collies and the gray haired chuck 🙂

  14. My husband is such a serious, cautious guy. I LOVE hearing him talk about all the insane things he did as a kid. I wish I could have seen some of those escapades.

  15. Tall person can remember doing crazy things when he was younger – he has scars to prove it. With hindsight he probably wouldn’t have taken so many risks but says learning about risk as a child helps children to deal with risk when they grown up.

  16. I know – the fact that anyone lived back then is amazing according to modern rules! I still have a problem with the bike and helmet thing…goodness…

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