Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Boy with No Fear and his Cowardly Father

For some reason the operator of the Ferris wheel at the local carnival had stopped our car at the very highest point of its rotation. At the same time, the power to this rickety ride went out. We were stuck at the top. All I could think was, “Are you kidding me?!?!” I do not enjoy heights and I don’t particularly trust the rides at most traveling carnivals (let me pause for a moment and say, if you are a carnival owner or employee, please accept my apology, but seriously, could you clean and oil those rides once in a while? They really don’t inspire confidence!) Nonetheless, here I am, about three stories off the ground, slowly swinging back and forth on an old, run-down Ferris wheel with my son at my side.

Now don’t start questioning my wisdom, instead blame my wife, my son, and my pride. My son saw that Ferris wheel from the road and started begging for us to get on the ride before we ever got out of the car. I was very hesitant (see my concerns listed above), but my wife said, “Yeah, daddy, why don’t you take your son for a ride?” Now what is a REAL man supposed to say to that challenge? “No honey, I am frightened of heights and feel that I might plummet to my death, or worse yet, pee my pants!” So, like any real man, I bought our tickets and got in line for the ride. The operator seemed like a nice enough guy, but his young age didn’t build my confidence. We loaded into our car. I questioned the maximum load the car could carry and the operator just gave me an evil laugh. As the ride started to spin, my fingers grasped the railing so tight that my knuckles were turning white. I was sweating and shivering at the same time. I felt queasy and a little dizzy. That is about the time the power went out and I looked over at my son sitting next to me as he was enjoying a good belly laugh. You see, my three year son has no fear. I, on the other hand, have a healthy dose.

The difference is, I have had a life full of experience and know the risks associated with certain activities. I have had more stitches than I can count and many broken bones and casts. I lived a boy’s life to the fullest and now I am older and wiser. My son, on the other hand, can crash on his bike, cry for a few minutes and get back on it like it never happened. The truth is, as much as I want to keep him safe at all times, there is a balance between our two philosophies. What is a life without risk and sometimes pain? How do we learn if we never push ourselves and find out where our limits are? How do you experience the highs that come with adventure, if you don’t run the risk of the lows that can accompany those adventures?

At the same time, there is a difference between a measured risk and complete insanity! My life experience can protect my children from unnecessary risks (like when he tried to jump off the back of the couch, over the dog, and onto our hardwood floors), but sometimes they need to experience them firsthand. My wife and I may argue about exactly where a traveling carnival Ferris wheel with no power rates on this scale . . . I vote for complete insanity. But we both agree that part of a child’s growth is in adventure. So next year, you’ll probably see me getting on that old, broken down Ferris wheel again - just pray that we don’t lose the power again. For more information about how you and your children can keep a balance between risk and safety, contact us at or 472-9876.

No comments:

Post a Comment