Thursday, June 02, 2005

Re: Children don't need life's bruises, Globe and Mail Andre Picard 2 June 05

See Mr. Picard's article in the Globe and mail at (you might need a subscription...?)
The Globe and Mail: Andr� Picard

Mr Picard, I'm afraid misses the point of his source letter, I agree with the letter writer, kids needs bumps, scrapes and colds, and a little mud and grime never hurt. I'm about to become a parent but S. and I are going to try and allow our kids to get some of those things (at least we're not going to freak out about scraped knees!)

Do we want them seriously hurt? NO, not even close. But I've taught axe and knife safety to Scouts (boys and girls 11-14) for years, no matter what I do, at some point Billy is going to cut his finger, not seriously - I've never had one requiring stitches - but he's going to do it. We teach them to work away from themselves, to carefully sharpen their knives so that they are safely sharp and not unsafely dull and all of the other things we're supposed to do and he's still going to do it. There is no way to make every activity risk free - as a matter of fact I want a little risk there, I want Sally to respect the tool she's working with, to know that it can hurt her and if she's not very carefully, to get a little knick as a life reminder - they rarely do it twice!

I'm not opposed to safe play structures and I insist on helmets for everyone on bikes, kids and adults included. When we're at camp no one goes in the water without a PFD - and I don't care how well you can swim. But, ('nother Scout example) Sally and Timmy will still flip their canoe one day on the lake - they are going to be cold and wet and scared - I can train them in canoe over canoe rescue (which is very difficult indeed in the middle of a windy lake, with your heavy clothes on and your PFD jammed up around your ears) I'll tell them to lash all of their equipment into the canoe and we'll stay together in a group and have an emergency plan. In the end, it's going to happen, and all of the kids who work together to pull Sally and Timmy out of the water, get a fire going quickly, setup their tents and get them dried out will take home life skills that cannot be taught any other way than being at risk - just a little bit.

The stories told around the campfire aren't the happy happy joy joy stories. The ones where we shared a little discomfort and came through. Ten years later we'll still tell the story of getting these two out of the water, how the rain came down and we fought to get the tents up and get everyone dried out and fed.


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