When I was about 12 years old I was climbing a particularly tall tree in my neighbourhood and, after reaching a never before achieved height and looking down proudly at all which lay below me, a branch buckled and I fell from the tree. As my panicked brain tried to process what had happened, branches assailed me from all sides, and the ground rushed up at me, my life flashed before my eyes. At that point my life consisted mainly of pooping and trying to see ladies’ boobs, but it was all there. With a lot less boobs than I’d have liked.
I was snatched from the waiting maw of death, though, by an especially sturdy branch about six feet from the ground, which the hood of my jacket happened to snag on, and I hung there for a few minutes letting the entirety of the situation sink in. I realized even then that this was something I’d never forget.
So it frustrates me to see so many parents today coddling and over-sheltering their kids. How are children supposed to learn valuable life lessons and grow to have a knowledge of actions and their consequences? If you don’t let a child run around and play outside because you’re afraid they’ll scrape their knee, how are they supposed to ever really learn about safety? About pain and how to cope with it? If you don’t let a kid jump off a tire swing into a lake, how will they ever learn about the exhilaration of taking bold risks? And the rewards that can come from taking them, like landing on a fat, juicy trout? If you never let a child choke themself until they pass out, how will they learn the delicacy required to do it later in life when they’re also in the throes of orgasm?
The tree incident could have ended very badly for me, but it was that very danger of harm that helped shape me into the man I am today. A man with an intense hatred for trees, and habitual and criminal attempts to burn down national parks.
Entire generations of kids are being raised to be weak-willed, meek, scared, politically correct adults who will never know the simple joys of eating an entire tray of cheese cubes on a whim, boxing a kangaroo, or having sudden, unprotected sex with someone you just met, who just 45 seconds before you had been physically struggling with over a cracked onyx panther statue you had both climbed into the same dumpster to retrieve.
When I was falling from the top of that tree, I wasn’t thinking, “What have I done? Why didn’t I just stay inside with my Pokemans, or whatever kids are playing with these days?” I was thinking “I did it. I may fall to my untimely death without seeing a whole lot of boobs, but I set out to climb to the top of that tree, and, by gol, I did it. I climbed as high as my soul could carry me, and slapped the face of God Himself with my little, embarrassing child-dick.” (I was a precocious lad)
So, parents, let your children run free. Let them play and have fun and discover all that life has to offer; the good and the bad. Let them get lumps on their heads and dislocate their shoulders and pop an eye out of its socket and lose a few fingers. They may be in pain for a while now, but you’re doing them far more harm in the long run keeping them cooped up and coddled.
I wonder sometimes what kind of man I would have ended up being if I hadn’t had the freedom to fall out of that tree. Likely not the adventurous, risk-taking, barrier-busting dynamo I did turn out to be. Possibly still emotionally crippled and afraid of intimacy, though. And the whole waking up every night screaming thing is kind of a toss up. Maybe wouldn’t have punched that street performer yesterday.
But one thing is for certain; the next time an opportunity to do something awesome comes along, I won’t balk at it just because I could potentially get hurt. Life is meant to be lived, and when I finally do die as a result of some harebrained caper, I don’t want there to be any regret in the scenes of the movie of my life flashing before my eyes. Although at this point it’s still mostly just pooping and trying to see ladies’ boobs. And I really haven’t seen as many boobs as I’d like.
Photo by Sean Perkins