Kids do stupid things. Let’s face it, they’re kids; it’s practically encoded in their DNA to take chances and push boundaries. However, it is a tough pill to swallow–and sometimes gag on–the stupid adventures of your own children.
My older kids are now at an age where they tell me what they never would when they were younger. It’s like a game of “who can shock Mom” and the winner is the one who can turn me whiter than the top of Charlie Sheen’s coffee table. Granted, most of their stories contain harmless pranks that they never give a second thought to, but as their mom, my mind immediately jumps to the “what ifs.” My children often tell me that I “freak out” over little things; they just can’t comprehend how much I worry and care for them.
For instance, Ryan and his friends used to light paper and various items on fire in his friend’s backyard, just to see how they would burn. Instantly, my imagination kicks in and I envision the wind picking up, the house ablaze, and fire trucks careening down the street. I have been accused of being irrational more than once…
Feeling the need to defend myself to the know-it-all teenagers, I pipe in with, “I am the rational one here.” I’m not sure if I was trying to convine myself or them. “You have to think about the consequences of your actions. What could happen, even if it never does.” Suddenly, I felt the warmth of my father smiling down from Heaven.
But Ryan, my son blessed with the logic of Mr. Spock, launches into a monologue about letting kids grow up and take chances.
“What’s the point of always playing it safe, of doing what is expected?” he philosophized.
This was their father speaking, the one who dove off cliffs in Hawaii, the one who went sky-diving. So I started to ponder: is this what is meant when people say you are, *gulp*, “getting old?” Do we take fewer gambles as we age? Or is that what is meant by wisdom? Is “old” a state of mind? Do some people take chances, big risks, brazen choices because they are afraid of getting older? Is that why Charlie Sheen’s coffee table top is white? As a parent, this is where my mind wanders.
When I was a kid, I made some suspect ventures with no regard to consequences, because, like most teenagers, I thought I was indestructible. The chances I took…the memories make me smile and shudder at the same time…
So I turned to my kids and declared, “Maybe I do need to loosen up. Maybe I need to be brazen and brash, like when I was a kid. However,” I continued, “I want you to contemplate your actions through to their worst possible conclusion and then decide if they’re worth the risk.” I agreed to not be as fatalistic and to gamble a little more often. I turned to Ryan and stated, ” In honor of you and your pyromaniac friends, I have decided to burn something, in tribute.”
“Cool. What are you going to burn?” he asked.
“Your dinner,” I responded.
He was right; it did feel good to be adventuresome.