You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Apparently I Wish Injury On My Kid

Posted in Miscellaneous by Stacy McMahon on June 3, 2007

Walter Kirn has an op-ed in the NYT on the movement represented by The Dangerous Book for Boys (link via Instapundit):

Today, when I rub the bump above my eyebrow, I like to think it bred a certain toughness — or at least the appearance of a certain toughness — but I have never found myself wishing a similar injury upon my 5-year-old son, Charlie. I would rather that his head remain unfractured, even if that means his psyche remains unchallenged.

To be honest — and I realize some of you will think I’m inhuman — I do wish a similar injury on my daughter Addie, if the only alternative is for her psyche to “remain unchallenged”. Keeping kids in the cooler until their chronological adulthood only keeps them “safe” in the physical sense. The actual result would be something like the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin, which makes a great movie but a lousy life for a real person.

To his credit, Kirn disavows the nanny-ist vision of childhood:

This isn’t the same as endorsing the spread of detachment and inertia among boys. I’m as romantic as any middle-aged man about the formative pummelings of my playground days. I just don’t want to systematize them in the name of reinstating healthy childhood spontaneity.

His point is that danger isn’t the goal of play, just a necessary side effect. So the trick is to allow kids the freedom to get into (and usually out of — without your even noticing) trouble on their own, because that’s how they learn about life. I’m on board with that approach, and prepared to pay the ER bills 🙂

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! (And sorry there isn’t more recent posting for you to peruse — I can only offer that I am legitimately busy in the offline world.)

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7 Responses

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  1. Extra P. said, on June 4, 2007 at 11:47 am

    My thing has always been, as long as my son knows how to swim, most everything else bad that can happen to him while he’s out playing is happenstance.

  2. Robert Buchanan said, on June 4, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Those early years are so formative; if they don’t learn about danger then, how will they cope with it when they become teenagers and adults? If I fear anything, it’s a society that’s become so sterile and overbearing that it prevents children from enjoying themselves and experiencing excitement!

  3. Stacy McMahon said, on June 4, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Those early years are so formative; if they don’t learn about danger then, how will they cope with it when they become teenagers and adults?

    Or just learn to handle themselves on their own. When I was a kid, I had a bicycle and more or less free range of my suburb (until dark/dinnertime anyway.) If I got into an altercation with other kids, blew a tire or whatever else, I might be on the other side of town with no quick way to contact my folks. I wonder if you get the same level of self-reliance when mommy and daddy are just a phonecall away.

    And maybe you do — I don’t want to fall into the “good old days” trap here either…

  4. Extra P. said, on June 4, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    My wife works at a major university, and she sees these kids every day. Their parents call on their behalf to try and strong-arm the registrars and talk their precious babies out of trouble they brought on themselves.

    It’s ridiculous.

  5. Top Posts « WordPress.com said, on June 4, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    […] Apparently I Wish Injury On My Kid Walter Kirn has an op-ed in the NYT on the movement represented by The Dangerous Book for Boys (link via […]

  6. Robert Buchanan said, on June 6, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Stacy,

    That’s a good point, and you shouldn’t second-guess yourself. My kids aren’t getting cell phones when they’re old enough. Coddle them too much, and they won’t know how to cope without either cell phones or parents.

    Extra P.,

    Tell me about it; you just described the biggest problem pertaining to difficult kids.

  7. […] dialogue about the appropriate role of safety concerns in children’s play. As mentioned previously, I come down on the side of new experiences even if it risks some scraped knees or a twisted ankle. […]


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