Yesterday there was drama, excitement and danger. It. Was. Awesome.
Yesterday was December 28. It was sunny and an unseasonable 65 degrees. Blue, Violet and I slept late while G got up early and went to work. If you're new here, my job during summer and winter break is to keep the kids alive. So yesterday I did my morning routine and while I was having a wonderful coffee at breakfast I realized that it would be a sin to waste such a beautiful day sitting inside. Winter is coming, I can feel it, and a day like this may not come around again until spring. The kids were apparently ready for an adventure so they started on picnic lunches and water bottles while I loaded up the kayaks.
It was beautiful out on the water. I was in shorts and a tshirt. I forgot my sweatshirt, but luckily I didn't need it. I had the kids dressed a little more appropriately (again, my job is to keep them alive). From the shore we set out across the way to an island. It's some sort of protected land owned by the state and with the lake level low for winter, there was a lot of exposed shoreline to explore. We paddled to one side to get a good look and as Blue was pointing out something he spied from his boat, he pointed too hard and leaned too far and his boat tipped. His panic tipped it further, water rushed inside and in a blink, he was neck deep in the lake. His life jacket kept him up so far that it took him a moment to realize he could touch the bottom but once he did, he ran to the shore. I'm sure his life flashed before his eyes. I may have mentioned that it was December 28. While the day was warm, the lake water was decidedly not warm.
So how was that awesome? It seems like Blue asks me that a lot when we have these types of experiences. And it's funny how things have changed in that regard. When he was born my life was all about keeping him alive. We covered all the electrical outlets with little plastic things. We moved furniture with sharp corners so it wouldn't be in his path. Cleaning products were moved up high and we even put those little plastic locks on all the cabinets. He couldn't go outside if it was too hot or too cold. We bathed him in Lysol and GermX. We protected him from every physical, emotional and mental danger we could possibly imagine.
We had a creek that cut across our yard when I was a kid. At some point it was piped underground but when I was around 10 the pipes under the driveway gave way and had to be replaced. These things happened slowly as work like this was often traded as favors and had to happen to fit someone else's work schedule. Early on a backhoe came by on a slow day and dug up the entire path across the driveway and removed the pipes. Dirt was piled head high on both sides of the creek. These two completely awesome "ramps" were conveniently located at the low spot on the driveway. We had a downhill run and visions of Evel Knievel in our heads. One afternoon my older brothers and I were jumping our little Grand Canyon on our bikes and some stranger lady pulled in the driveway. She drove around the little detour and knocked on the door to our house. She then informed my parents that we were all about to kill ourselves jumping over that pit in our driveway. Of course, we did this just about every day so mom and dad shrugged it off and sent her on her way.
My parents protected us. They made sure we were safe. But they also allowed us to live and explore and have adventures. We dug giant holes. We cut down trees with hatchets. We got cuts and scrapes and probably a few concussions, but we didn't know what those were so it's ok. All those adventures helped to teach us how to live and how to be people.
I realize this is not a newsflash to most of you but we are raising generations of children who think an adventure is something you play on an XBox. Excitement is only something they feel when there's a new season of their favorite show released on Netflix. They survive on carbonated sugar drinks and Cheetos. And all this because their parents have hovered and tried to protect them from all sorts of dangers. So they sit inside and breath processed air and they whine incessantly when the temperature varies one degree in either direction. They don't know what it's like to go exploring in the woods. They never play in the mud. They never experience any kid-friendly "danger".
So when they grow up into teens and 20somethings they are pasty, unhealthy, scared of everything and they don't know how to deal with real excitement or challenges because their parents aren't there to hover and fix it anymore.
In their book "The Dangerous Book For Boys", Conn and Hal Iggulden write, "In this age of video games and cell phones, there must still be a place for knots, tree houses, and stories of incredible courage." Yes, there must be.
Yesterday Blue caught his breath on the shore. He was truly terrified by the cold and unexpected swim. We stood in the sun as he dripped dry and then we walked the shoreline and found cool treasures. He started making jokes about being wet and falling out of his boat. Then he got back in his kayak and paddled himself across the lake like a dude who just punched a dragon in the face.
It was awesome.
(If you have kids or if you plan to have kids ever, buy "The Dangerous Book For Boys". Read it and do some of the cool stuff with your kids. It's totally safe for girls too.)