Kids these days.
I’ll tell you, we are the most overprotective paranoid society of parents. What happened?
When I was a kid, we rode our bikes, down a hill, without training wheels and possibly without shoes. Now, parents raise their eyebrows if your kids aren’t clad from head to toe with elbow and knee pads, gloves and helmets, just to ride down their driveways. What the fuck? No one even watched us ride our bikes. If we fell, we got banged up, skinned the shit out of our knees and palms and rang our bells so hard that we saw animated blue birds chirping in circles of fairy dust around our heads. And you know what? We learned, pretty quickly, how to ride a bike and not to fall, because it hurt like shit. Now when a kid falls, mom, who’s been nervously chewing her cuticles watching from arm’s-length away, runs over and helps him up, hugging his overly protected ass, while walking him inside to feed him a bowl of organic, fair trade, vegan ice cream as she hops on her iPad to research safer bikes.
It’s bullshit people.
We rode in the front seat, we hung our heads out the window, we ran and played in the woods and got scratched up with stickers. We ran free all day with the neighborhood kids and only came in when it got dark. We were kids, and we were allowed to learn from our mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that our world has changed and that there are things we must do to keep our children safe from the crazies of the world, but the general over-protectiveness has simply gone too far in my opinion.
My kids don’t wear helmets or knee pads to ride their razor scooters, and they have torn up knees to prove it.
My scars are like bookmarks through my childhood, each with a story to tell. The two large ones that cover my knees are reminders of the hot summer day when I ran and fell, skinning them down to the bone on the pebble-stone stairs of Jackie’s front sidewalk, and the band-aids and scabs that peeled off again and again until autumn. The long scar on the inside of my right elbow, a souvenir of a broken arm, bent completely backwards doing a cart-wheel down a wet, grassy hill at the bus stop, landing me on my back in traction for two weeks. The dent in my right eyebrow, a memento of the rock that split my head open during a mud-ball battle in the dirt foundation of a house that was being built down the street. The pencil lead in my left palm, a keepsake from second grade. All of these are little heirlooms which decorate my youth. Although they hurt at the time, the memories attached to them are happy ones of simple times dipped in the sweet nostalgia of innocence.
Just because I don’t have my boys geared up to ride scooters and bikes doesn’t mean I don’t love or care about them, just the opposite. I love them enough to let them fall, let them learn to get back up and try again, because that is life. There are consequences, and mommy is not always going to be there to fix it for them. Of course I worry, and I hate to see them get hurt, but I want them to learn their lessons from their actions and mistakes. I don’t want them to be afraid to get back up and do it again, I want them to get back up in spite of it and try again and again until they get it. It’s a basic fundamental lesson and skill set that I want them to have firmly in place.
We all need to get a little banged up to learn that lesson effectively, and my hope is that one day their scars will remind them of simple, happy times, as they continually get back up on the proverbial bike of life.