Experts agree if you love your children you should endanger them as often as you can.
Now is a great time of year to do it. Summer is coming and kids are getting back into cricket. If they are around nine or ten like my boy, that means moving up to hard ball. A hugely exciting time. Mainly because of the cool gear they get to wear. Pads, gloves, helmet, box and special box undies.
Cricket started in the 16th century as a pleasant village green, underarm ball-lobbing game. Croquet meets pétanque played with a wussy hockey stick bat in front of some twigs stuck in a lawn.
One day someone decided to deliver the ball overarm, things sped up, bowlers started trying to kill batsman and nowadays players have to cover themselves in armour to survive. Thank God for that. The game would suck if it wasn't scary. How great would it be great to send Black Cap Adam Milne back in time to bowl at those ye olde cricketeers. Show them some 153km/h chin music.
So after getting him all the gear me and my son headed down to the nets to try them out. I love the little guy so I steamed in, pitched it short and cracked him on the side of the helmet first ball. He hit the ground. Shook his head. Took a few breaths. Then stood up and yelled "do that again Dad!". Like every father before me I grunted "keep your eyes on the ball" and after three wides and four or so long hops I managed my second decent bouncer and this time he pulled the ball like a little Ricky Ponting. He learnt by being put in danger. Unfortunately my next delivery was a wild beamer that hit him in his unprotected forearm and we had to go home. He also learnt that day that his Dad is a crap cricketer.
Director of the Alliance for Childhood Joan Almon claims "creating an environment that is overly safe creates danger for children. Growing up risk-averse, means children are not able to practice risk-assessment which enables them to match their skills with the demands of the environment". So true.
Once again I put my kids in danger and it paid off. Quality parenting. Quality learnings.
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Skiing and snowboarding are other great ways to put your kids in productive danger. A child has to make a thousand little decisions to protect themselves. If they make the wrong one they'll smash into someone, go over the edge or hit a rock. I took my youngest boy up the mountain recently. I care a lot about him so I bypassed the learners slopes and took him up the top of the quad chair lift. Unfortunately we got talking about Pokemon on the way up and I totally forgot to prepare him for the unload. So I ski off and he's still on the lift. A six-year-old heading down by himself high about the rocks with the safety bar up isn't ideal. Luckily my super parental instincts kicked in and I managed to grab him off the chair above my head and slide us both to safety. Phew.
Sadly the next time up the lift was just as bad. We ended up in a twisted mess with a nice baby-boomer couple. But the unload after that was a lesser disaster and by mid morning my boy was dismounting like a pro. Once again I put my kids in danger and it paid off. Quality parenting. Quality learnings.
It doesn't always work. A friend with us experienced mixed results. Her boy also failed to get off the chairlift. Unfortunately when she tried to grab him she fell backwards and knocked herself unconscious on some rocks. They had to get the red emergency snowmobile up. Towed her back down the mountain in the zip-up stretcher. She couldn't remember the key test word "Broccoli" at the bottom. Has no memory of the incident. Still her boy was fine and hours later when we got him down the mountain he could kind of ski.
I've been putting my kids at risk lately and, apart from a few major incidents, it's working out great. Hard lessons. Good times.
So, steam in with the hard ball, take the humiliating net off the trampoline, biff your kids in the deep end and take them to the top of a mountain. They'll thank you for it when they grow up unstupid like me.