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My Daughter Breaking Her Neck

photo-3 copy 3Sometimes my daughter will jump up to grab the pull up bar in the doorway to her bedroom and swing and swing and dismount and crack her head on the corner of a coffee table, spew blood all over the place, and grab the pull up bar again. I watch her and think things like “Just, why?” or “She’s going to break her neck.” but I never stop her. I’m not very careful. I’m not very protective. I love the immortal bravado of children. I love that thing within in them that needs to risk it all. It’s better than another game of Go Fish.

I guess I just can’t get with this quirky notion that a parent’s job is to make sure kids never experience pain and suffering. Especially when so much of life hurts so good. In fact, pain makes such profounder memories than joy that one could argue that our lives, our biographies as such, are made of pain (cf. Buddhism). I remember all my scars, broken bones and broken promises. You ever been punched in the face so hard that you went down? I have. And I remember the bar, the pool table, the 3 guys playing darts, and the long journey to the floor. The cold wood on my face. Indelible.

But none of that is to say that I hope my daughter breaks her neck because that would just be crazy and weird. No. I think what I mean is that I respect my daughter’s right to engage in activities where her neck might be broken. Hell, stupider people than her have broken their necks trying to step off escalators. The world wants to break our necks. It’s on the lookout to break our necks. But don’t get me wrong. Of course the world is wonderful, too, and lots of times it’s raining gumdrops, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the world loves a good neck snapping. And so do we. I’d go see a hanging. Think about that a second before you react. You wouldn’t go see a hanging? You sure? What if they sold corn dogs?

I hate handrails on mountains, helmets, and (ESPECIALLY) nets around trampolines. We used to be vicious wild animals who roamed the earth with dignity and now we’re all obese with 3 or 4 insurance policies riding on floors that move through airports. SEE THIS CORRELATION. The rampant need for safety and security and intact necks has created a culture of slovenly whiners who don’t keep score because everyone wins. All the kids, even the losers, get trophies when what they need is their necks broken. And my God if a kid can’t fall off a trampoline, how are they EVER going to deal with waiting in line at the DMV?

Again, this is a touchy issue because it’s not like I’m going to intentionally harm my kids in an attempt to construct their characters. The least I can do, though, is play soccer with them in the street. I want to encourage them to risk it all, to go all in, live dangerously, and fall in love with complete and utter reckless abandon.

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