Friday, May 18, 2007

MotherTalk Blog Bonanza: Dangerous Boy Friday

**first things first:
TUNE IN tonight at 10pm EST.
Sit back and experience me. Bring booze-it's DOUBLE SHOT night!


It's time once again for a MotherTalk Blog Bonanza! Our topic is brought to us courtesy of the book "Dangerous Book For Boys".

I feel I should preface my post with a couple of things...
First, I have not read the book. YET (I'm waiting for it to arrive). I HAVE read reviews and author interviews, and I think I have a general (very general) understanding of the content. (and anyways this isn't a book review)

In one sense, I think it offers some interesting and entertaining projects and information for children.

But there's always that 'other hand'. I do NOT wish to insult the authors in any way--after all, they are men, therefore they are former boys, and they are writing what they know.

I am a girl. Well, woman now.
So I will write what I know.

See, they've left out a large portion of the population...I'm sure you've figured out which portion by now. I certainly hope the authors did not mean to imply in any way that girls wouldn't enjoy
A. Reading this book
and
B. Enjoying the activities contained therein.
I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt--since I haven't read more than an excerpt or two yet.

I did take a bit of exception to a portion of an author interview which stated, "The book is often bought by fathers, of course."
Perhaps things work a little differently in the UK, but it's been my experience that about 7 times out of 10 it is MOM doing the shopping, MOM being more likely to purchase a book for a child.
In my humble opinion, the authors would have been better served calling the book "Dangerous Book For Children".
But that's just me.


On with the Blog Bonanza!


I have a trampoline in my backyard. It has no safety fence thingy.
A friend of mine once asked, "Don't you want your children to be as safe as they possibly can??"
Well, yeah...but...

When I learned to rollerskate, I had metal skates that fit on over my shoes. I had no knee pads, no elbow pads, and certainly no helmet.
Same goes for when I learned to ride a bike.
Boys and girls played touch football together in the yard at dusk, usually with bare feet.
We explored the woods around us, plus all the little creeks and streams that cottonmouth snakes called home.
We caught ringneck snakes and lizards, crawfish and grasshoppers--the 'hoppers we used when we went fishin' in those creeks and streams.
We had bottlecap collections--we found them anywhere, everywhere, and used sometimes rusty nails to pin the caps to a plank of wood.
We walked barefoot on gravel driveways, we got fish hooks caught in our fingers and feet. We got ticks in our heads that our parents pulled out with little fanfare. Since we were mostly barefoot, we got stickers in our feet and learned to yank them out quick without hollerin'.
When I played softball, we had sliding practices. We learned to slide on the side; we learned to slide head-first.
We climbed trees and skinned our knees, we built precarious 'houses' in those trees.
We played with hammers and nails, screwdrivers, and wrenches. We dug holes in the yard with shovels.
We camped out in the back yard. We used a sterno stove to cook dinner and breakfast when we camped out.
It was never too hot to ride bikes.

Until I became a mother myself, I never understood or appreciated how my parents must have felt.
My instinct is to shelter, to over-protect...and I fight myself constantly so that I do not stifle my children. I freely admit that it's been one of the hardest things for me to do--back off & let them experience.

My cousin Sharon started teaching me to ride horses when I was young. They had a big white mare named Silver, and she (Sharon, that is, not Silver) and I rode double on a roomy western-style saddle.
No helmet. No fancy boots or jodhpurs. Once I was even wearing sandals whilst we were riding.
Last summer my daughter was learning to ride on a Shetland pony. She wore boots and jeans...no helmet.
One day the horse spooked and ran under a tree to scrape my kid off--and my daughter ended up with about 10 staples in the top of her scalp (you can read about it & see the pics).

As much as I wanted to forbid the riding of the horses after that...I didn't.
She (literally) got back up on the horse.

Kids get hurt. Accidents happen. Sad but true.

Of course we want to spare our children the pain...but how will they learn to live through it, deal with it, if we never let them experience?

I always had scrapes and bruises and contusions growing up, every finger and thumb jammed at some point (which my dad would yank back out), with a fractured wrist and a chipped bone in my middle finger (no, I wasn't flipping someone the bird at the time, it's a much more embarrassing story than that), a severely sprained ankle (3 times), cracked tailbone, and heaven knows what else--because I was experiencing life. I was playing ball and playing with friends and exploring and biking and running and climbing and skating and collecting and having fun.

I don't want my kids to suffer any of the painful things. But I'm not going to interfere too much, either.

As much as I loveloveLOVE to read, I just didn't spend much time indoors, especially during the summer. Mothers would shoo us outside with a popsicle or a cold drink and tell us to "Go play. Stay out of trouble."

That's why I wonder how those children (my generation) became parents who buy their children every electronic device known to man and let them sit around in a vegetative state in front of the TV. With video games, computers, whatever.
How did we get to this?

That's where I think the book Dangerous Book For Boys can play a useful part--with ALL children and parents--helLO, single mom here! No father/son thing...it's a mother/daughter/son groove.
The book tells of simple activities, like how to skip stones and make paper hats & paper airplanes, as well as more adventurous activities like making a bow & arrow or a go-cart. The book tells interesting historical stories (girls like history too!), teaches navigation and how to play poker.

Luckily, I'm a groovy mom & taught my daughter how to play Blackjack years ago. We've moved on to Texas Hold 'Em.
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