Thursday, July 19, 2012

Having Fun, Taking Risks and Paying the Price

A day at the beach, 2011.
I just read a chilling story about 12-year-old boy from New Jersey who died when a sand tunnel collapsed on him. That story hit incredibly close to home, though admittedly my boys tend to dig giant holes rather than tunnels in the sand.

I've long wondered if my boys have guardian angels following their every move. It's incredible that we've only visited the ER once for stitches in all my years as a parent.

Honestly, I once left them outside to fingerpaint while I grabbed the phone inside (people didn't have cell phones on them at all times back in the olden days) and when I returned, my heart jumped to see them slipping and sliding on their gooey paintings, narrowly avoiding cracking their skulls on the sidewalk.

My boys are smart, but do incredibly stupid things sometimes. They are unaware of the risks, rolling their eyes at me when I tell them to watch out for this or that. Do they know too little or do I know too much? Sometimes it's hard to say.

I met Angie Six of The Risky Kids blog at Blissdom earlier this year. As I sorted through the business cards I collected at the conference, hers stood out. "I like that," I thought. Angie sums up their philosophy,

"The Risky Kids is our place to share a different way to play and parent: one that worries less, encourages freedom and fun, and yes, might include a few bumps and bruises"
She also references Gever Tulley's book, 50 Dangerous Things (you should let you kids do) which is a favorite in our house, too. My boys were older when the book came out, so they had already done many of the 50 things, but there's at least one I'm scared to let the boys do.

It's certainly not build a sand tunnel and crawl through it.
My heart goes out the family of the boy who died on the beach today.

After reconnecting with Angie on Twitter last week, I headed back to The Risky Kids to see what I'd missed. She has an interesting post on the financial implications of risky play that strikes a cord with me.

I admit that seeing my boys hang upside down, attempting to flip themselves off the monkey bars or watching my tween climb the tree on our front lawn gets me not only thinking about a broken arm (or neck!), but the cost of repairing injuries (or God forbid, long-term care, rehab and uncovered pre-existing conditions!).

Do you see death or dollar signs when your kids do risky things? Do you ever let them do risky things? (Not that my son asked for permission when he stuck metal tweezers into the electric outlet.)
How, when, where do you draw the line?

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.


  1. First, I'm so sorry to hear of this accident. How very heartbreaking.

    As a science teacher I have a lot of dangerous stuff happen around the house. However I treat these kind of activities like a class. We start with safety information, lessons on how the tools/materials are used correctly, use of safety gear if necessary and some data on what ifs. Then the kids can have at it. Risks are necessary to thrive in life, but even thrill-seeking experts do their homework. Risks can have some education. Let them explore, but teach them how to learn about the structural limits and weight of their materials and how to choose good locations.

    Exploration can also be productive. Microwave ovens can be used to destroy, but are just as fun when used to make something cool (Although destroying a bar of Ivory soap is fun, too).

    Accidents will still happen, but they're likely to be minor.

    Giving them cool tools and ideas to turn the activity more productive and head off bad decisions. Give them sand castle building tools like molds, spray bottles, masonry trowels, cameras and incentives for winning a contest and they might sculpt instead. It can be just as intriguing to get 2,700 lbs per cubic yard to defy gravity by building up.

  2. Life is risky, unpredictable, and precious. OMG! My heart goes to the family who suffered this painful loss. Must take
    a lesson from this horrifying accident.

    I'm curious to check out the risky lists, though.

    On the lighter side, the kids in the picture look familiar ;)


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