• TheConfused Father

Why I am going to teach my kids to throw fireworks (Someday)

Probably one of the craziest things that my father ever said to me as a child was "I am going to teach you how to throw a bottle rocket today, but don't tell your mother." It is a very clear memory in my mind. It was the first summer after we had moved into the country from the suburbs so I would have been 9 years old. Mom had gone into town to get something for the party we were throwing that night. Sam and Alex had gone with her, so it was just dad and me at home. As a child, I didn't question this statement at all. I was like "Ya! Let's do this." But as an adult with children of my own, I understand his reasoning much better. As a parent, a lot of people think that it is our job to keep our kids safe, and to some extent that is true. The problem with that approach is someday your children will leave home and go to live their own lives and have children of their own. So what happens once we are no longer there to protect them? My wife and I tend to follow more in my father's school of thought that it is our job as parents to teach our children how to protect themselves and to do it at a safe distance until they are ready. Growing up I can think of a lot of lessons that came from this school of thought. The shotgun that I got for my tenth birthday that came with a hunters safety class attached. The four-wheeler that the three of us got for Christmas one year. Learning to drive my great grandfather's old chevy through Great Uncle Joe's pasture the fall before he died. All of these were lessons that were meant to prepare me for going hunting with my high school friends on early Saturday mornings. Taking Keaton's three-wheeler out for a ride while his parents weren't home. And the first car accident I was in on the way to a band rehearsal one night. Each of these lessons came as a fun little outing with my dad, but the knowledge I learned kept me safe when he wasn't there to do so. Even up to last night when my two brothers-in-law and I were still out after the kids went to bed, throwing fireworks off an old hay rack. One of the fuses went faster than the others had but dad's teaching was still right there keeping me safe. I ditched it early just as he had taught me, kicked it away from the group of us, and turned my back to it protecting my head with my hands. I got out of what easily could have been a trip to the ER with just a very small minor burn on the back of my hand. The difference between a dangerous situation and a good time can be as simple as information. A car in the hands of someone who has never learned to drive could easily result in death. But with training and guidance automobiles are one of the staples of our lives in most of the world. Not saying what I was doing wasn't dumb, because it was. But by understanding the risk and how to protect myself, it is less dumb. Human beings (especially men) are drawn to dangerous activities due to our chemical makeup. Adrenaline and dopamine can make what would normally be an easy to make decision into an "eh what's the worst that can happen moment." I promise you your kids are going to make dangerous choices, whether it's jumping into rivers off bridges in high school, going skydiving in college, or diving shipwrecks on their honeymoon. The more we can prepare them for the moment that those risky decisions turn to dangerous moments the better we have done as parents.

I hope that you had a fun and safe Independence Day. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering...



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