Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | March 20, 2011

break a leg

It worries me a wee bit when my eight-year-old son does his tightrope routine on top of the wooden fence beside our house.

He might fall off. But he doesn’t. Well, should I say he hasn’t fallen off. Do I add “yet”?

He might fall off. But he is experiencing risk with minimal consequences.

There are three kids at school who might say broken bones, in their case arms, are more than “minimal consequences”.

But to me, that’s life.

I climbed trees, jumped off sheds and walked along the top of hedges. I don’t remember falling off but I do remember crying to mum on more than one occasion.

This blog comes on the heels of an article I have just read on the NZ Herald website concerning the “tree hut” pictured below.

The platforms will be torn down next week. Photo / Tim Cuff

The platforms will be torn down next week. Photo / Tim Cuff

“To the children it’s a place to play; to the council it’s a death-trap. So officials in Nelson have ordered a tree house to be demolished because it’s too unsafe for children to play on.”

 

The article goes on… “The offending structure, two platforms built on council land near Orphanage Creek, will be torn down next week by the Nelson City Council. A tyre swing has the all-clear to stay but will be monitored and may be removed in future.

Nelson City Council parks team leader Lindsay Barber said the council was tipped off by a concerned member of the public. The hut’s platform was “a bit wobbly” and didn’t look particularly secure, he said. Barber said the council was caught between letting kids be kids and protecting the public: “We have to take a more conservative line with it.” He said “no one wants to ruin anyone’s fun”, but if a child was hurt it could come back on the organisation. “The general public are very, very unforgiving when it comes to the council. At the end of the day we’ve got to cover our tracks with it a little bit.” Barber acknowledged such a situation would not have happened 20 or 30 years ago but said “we’re in a different situation in the 21st century”.

Nelson city councillor Pete Rainey said it would be sad if a kid couldn’t have fun building a tree hut, but the council had a public safety responsibility.

But such actions were killing the nation’s adventurous spirit, said Scouts New Zealand spokesman Ed Kulik. “Kids these days are wrapped in cotton wool. They need to be able to climb trees – and fall out of them sometimes.” He said anything “remotely hazardous” required an unnecessary amount of forms and precautions.. “I’m disappointed that we can’t teach our children what is safe and that they can’t experience danger so they know how to get out of it.”

I so agree with Mr Kulik. Don’t tell my two, but we’re looking at getting an 80CC motorbike for Lachlan’s birthday. So they can have a bit of fun in the paddock, but also so they can learn what a bit of power means… so they will get in a car in a few year’s time having felt power, having gone a bit fast, probably having broken their first bone.
But I can live with that.
I remember Celia Lashlie saying at a presentation a few years ago that you need to let young men make decisions about their washing, their lunches, their work… so when it comes to a more serious decision (like behind the wheel of a car) it won’t be their first.
I mentioned three kids at school at the moment with broken arms. One from a trampoline, one from a playground and one from jumping around on the top of balage. They were having such a good time (I’ve seen the mum’s photos taken sometime before the jump that resulted in the broken arm) and I hope they haven’t been put off pushing their boundaries.  Another friend used to watch her kids somersault off the trampoline – then the eldest broke her leg walking off the back door step.
So Lachlan might fall off the fence.  So they both might pull a wheel stand and ride into the side of a silo because they stuffed up the clutch (no wait, that was me) they will learn valuable life lessons from having a go, accepting the consequences, assessing and perhaps minimising risks.
That’s life. Live it.
(I thought my bit about Celia was familiar as I was typing… I touched on this very issue a few years ago!)

 
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