Wednesday Wars: falling vs. helmets

Basically, I was the kid who was never without a band-aid.

I wore them out of necessity.
Due to scrapes and cuts that have long since healed and scarred.
I fell a lot. Clumsily and confidently.
Friends and I dared one another to do silly stunts and jumps; to fall without fear.
We biked and bladed. We walked and ran. We skipped and swam. We tubed and skiied.
And we did these things back in the days when no one wore helmets. The days when you were weird if you owned a helmet. Where kneepads equaled nerdiness. And elbowpads meant scaredy cat.
These were unwrittens. Things everyone knew.
If you wanted to survive and hang in there with the big kids, you didn’t wear anything but pride and purpose.
Pride in your accomplishments – the fences you hopped, the trees you mastered, the bikes you raced.
Purpose in your performance – the style of your rollerblading, the flair of your jumps, the height of your climb.
You were just you. A kid.
If you fell, you got up. You walked it off. You sucked it up. You got back in the saddle again.
Tears were frowned upon. You just didn’t do it.
Instead, you proved to everyone you weren’t afraid to donate more blood to the pavement.
You limped, blood running down your leg, ruining your white socks. You cradled your arm, your elbow red and raw.
You blew out the dirt, rocks, and grass that cut into your palms.
And you held your head high. The entire time.
Many times, I did this.
I got back on my bike. If I was crying, I didn’t show it.
I got back in the swing and prepared for another jump. If I had butterflies, I quieted them.
I put my rollerblades on again. If I was shaky, I shook it off.
I put my waterski on for another run across the lake. If I was water-logged and sore, I smiled and said, “hit it.”
And so, this Wednesday War is about falling vs. helmets.
Today, kids wear helemts. And every stinkin’ pad ever created.
And they safely never take risks. For fear of failure and falling.
Now, I understand the need for some safety. I get that concussions are a tragic part of life.
But I often wonder. Are today’s kids going to know what it means to fall and get back up without help? What it means to fall off your bike, a block from home. Without a cell phone.
I think there’s a risk that helmet-hovering parents aren’t considering.
They’re risking their kids’ success in life by protecting them from failures.
Kids that fall, learn to pick themselves up.
Kids that wear helmets, learn to rely on others.
Falling doesn’t mean failure. Helmets don’t mean happiness.
Wouldn’t you rather have your kid learn how to survive a cut knee in chidlhood, than to have to learn how to survive a cut life in adulthood?
Wouldn’t you rather fall young than crash late?
I ask. You answer.
  1. Did you fall a lot as kid? Were helmets required or unheard of?
  2. What was the biggest thing you learned from falling young?
  3. What is the hardest thing you’ve learned from crashing late?
  4. Do you think today’s kids are overly protected by pads and brakes, helmets and suncreen?
  5. Why do you think our society seeks to “prevent” and “protect” every failure and fall?

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