I pulled the tin whistle out of my throat, and had enough sense to keep quiet about it. My folks had little tolerance for any consequences from acting stupid. By afternoon I was swinging upside down again, this time without my whistle, my voice now raspy.
At this moment, my left thumb has a small (but gaping) laceration from a saw that slipped from the limb I was cutting a few days ago. I was at the top of a ladder at the time.
I thought I liked heights despite my history--turns out my adventures may have contributed to my relative fearlessness.
"Paradoxically, we [Drs. Sanseter and Kennair] posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology."
|"Girls' playground, Harriet Island," circa 1905|
We broke a few bones, collected quite a few stitches, scraped off some skin, nearly drowned a few times, chipped (and lost) a few teeth, burned ourselves regularly, and spent part of an afternoon stone deaf after getting a fuseless M80 to demonstrate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics a foot or two away from our faces.
We got chewed, stung, or nipped by skeeters, crabs, bees and wasps, jellyfish, a bluefish or two. I even got a catfish stuck on my leg for hours, refusing to go for help as the critter shuddered away its last few hours, in a worse state than me.
We knew what tendons looked like from direct experience. ("Look, mom...!")
I'm not advocating that we maim our children, and our gang was a little nutty even by the standards of 4 or 5 decades ago. You could reconstruct a fair-sized toddler from all the cells we lost along the way.
We developed fearlessness, and we learned the difference between risk and recklessness. I even learned a bit about the anatomy of the larynx.
Fear can kill life long before a child's last breath. Fear has tempered some of the flash and bang once a staple in science class. Fear of failing has replaced the kinds of fear that shaped the pursuit of happy and fulfilling lives.