I grew up in a very dangerous time. During the 1970’s children were not required to wear seatbelts in the back seats, playground equipment was often mounted straight into the asphalt, we never wore helmets to ride our bikes (or anything else), we didn’t have hand sanitizer, and not only did cars not have air bags, but the dashboards seemed specifically designed to decapitate with those hard chromed edges.
Okay, perhaps I exaggerate a little, but when I look at how my kids are raised today compared with how I grew up, it almost seems like no one cared whether kids lived or died back then. And yet somehow I not only survived, but I manage to look back on my childhood as a fun, happy time. I managed to get through childhood without breaking a single bone, though I did pull a hot-oil popcorn popper over on myself when I was three. I tripped while holding onto scissors (okay, I was attacking my brother with them) and jabbed them into my neck. I got my finger shut in car doors. Those sorts of things can and still do happen today.
Sometimes I have to wonder if we simply try to remove all danger from out kids’ lives in lieu of teaching them to be careful. If so, we’re not doing them any favors. I don’t mean to make light of the serious accidents that can occur, and any child’s death or maiming is a serious tragedy, but are our children really any safer today? Kids are creative and determined! As Jeff Goldblum’s character says in Jurassic Park, “Nature finds a way,” and if kids aren’t a force of nature, what is?
Perhaps I might feel differently had I banged myself up worse as a kid. But I also have to wonder if, by not protecting me from the little injuries, my parents didn’t teach me to be more careful in general so I was able to avoid the bigger ones. Or maybe I’m just special or lead a charmed life. Maybe I should go knock on a whole forest after writing this article. But I look back on my childhood and the supposedly dangerous things we did and have to say “That was fun!” I had a good childhood, cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns and all.
Perhaps we’re more enlightened today. But I don’t think my children get to have as much fun.