Last night, one of the neighborhood kids fell and broke his wrist during a vigorous after dark game, played without adult supervision. That kind of injury would never have happened to me when I was a kid, because I wasn’t allowed to play rough or vigorous. My parents, who had experienced the 1930s and 1940s with excessive force, were bound and determined to protect my sister and me from pain.
The only problem is that it doesn’t work. I’m not advocating torturing kids or anything to get them to face life’s realities, but you can’t hide them from it either. Yesterday, this youngster learned about pain, but he also learned about bravery. He cried — but then he sucked it up. Today, he’s basking in sympathy and interest. His wrist will heal, and life will go on.
Swathed in cotton wool as I was, when I ran into pain in my 20s, I had absolutely no idea how to respond. An ordinary lesson when one is 10 or 12 or 14, became a very difficult lesson for me. I’m still embarrassed when I look back and see how badly I behaved.
One of life’s realities is that pain, both physical and emotional, is out there. Short of living locked in a room, which itself is a measure of psychic pain I can’t even imagine, one cannot hide from the physical and mental hits life has in store for us.
Interestingly, my parenting and political philosophies mesh well, just as my (liberal) husband’s parenting and political philosophies do. Both politically and as a parent, I believe in maximum individual freedom within a small, but stable and reliable, framework of rules. Kids and citizens should have the opportunity to soar, even if there is a risk of falling. My husband is a micro manager, who is so certain that he knows what is right for all people, and that he can control all known risks, that he is loath to allow anyone, whether citizen or child, off the leash.