Sunday, March 29

Random Thoughts on a Snowy Spring Day

It's March 29 and we got about 4" of snow. Not much compared to other parts of the country, but it is funny to look out and see heavy wet snow bending the branches of trees. My friend talked about sprinkling grass seed on top of the snow, but the robins and other birds might think it is feed meant for them. Still, I appreciate the idea of trying to seed and water at the same time.

Today's Frazz comic strip made me laugh out loud. March weather in like a lion, but out like a lab. . . as in golden lab or labrador retriever. Anyone who knows or has owned a lab knows what that's like: wanting to be in, wanting to be out, wanting to be in, wanting to be out.

March Madness is all about basketball? I think not. March Madness. Ides of March (that became significant only because of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar). Snow in March. March is mad as in "crazy" (erratic, askew) or maybe even "madcap" (capricious, reckless, foolish). It's a transition from winter to spring. It is the month during which most of Lent is observed: the 40-day Christian observation of prayer and fasting prior to Easter. And St. Patrick's Day.

Treehouses. There was an article in the March 9 Chicago Tribune about the danger of treehouses. Apparently about 2,800 children are injured because of accidents linked to treehouses; of course those injuries range from bruises to broken bones and there is no breakdown on the statistics. Shoot. If bruises are part of national injury surveys, then I need to wear a helmet and body armor wherever I go. Those door facings are always jumping out to body check me! And what is up with those coffee tables repositioning themselves to try to tackle me at shin level.

I don't mean to minimize the possible injuries that are associated with children at play. . . in treehouses, swing sets, playgrounds in general, forts made of giant boxes, etc. And I did appreciate that the author of the article, James Janega, was not being strident or suggesting an anti-treehouse movement. There are some practical suggestions about the height of the treehouse and potential reasonable safety measures parents can take. And I loved this sentence: "And then just accept the idea of risk."

That's a great motto for life: Just accept the idea of risk. For all of the risk management parents may take to safeguard their children for any possibility in life, there will always be something else. And it's good for kids to learn how to handle the consequences of risk.

When I was a kid (I think I was in 2nd or 3rd grade) there were some houses being built in the neighborhood. There is something very compelling about the interior frame of a house. We felt the need, of course, to climb the framing. And then we discovered a ladder to the roof of the house. The temptation was too great. I'm not sure we thought about it for more than a few milliseconds before climbing up that ladder. There we were on the roof! We could see for miles! Well, okay, a few houses in each direction, but that was pretty amazing for us. We sat up there for quite a while. Then it was time for each of us to go home for supper. But someone had moved the ladder. Uh-oh. We raced around the edges of the roof looking for it, but it was GONE.

We were far enough away from anyone's house that we couldn't shout for help and then we remembered we weren't supposed to be climbing in the houses anyway. Each of us had some dulled and distant recollection of being told to stay away from, out of, something about the houses being built. None of us could remember that admonishment exactly, but we were pretty sure that if we got caught, we were likely to be in trouble.

But we had no choice but to jump. It was a one-story house, but suddenly the distance to the ground looked really, really far. I distinctly remember thinking that my mother would kill me if I broke my leg. But you know how many times we'd jumped off the swings after making them go as high as we could? Lots. Or jumped out of a tree because that was easier than trying to climb back down? A bunch. Somehow this seemed more daring and more dangerous.

One of the boys went first. Dropped and rolled. Grinned broadly. Didn't get hurt. Another boy went next. Landed a little awkwardly. Might have sprained his ankle, but that was nothing new for any of us. I went next. Managed to drop and roll like the first boy. Got a few bruises and a scrape from some gravel. Not a big deal. The last two kids jumped at the same time. One of the girls landed on a hidden branch and got poked; drew a little blood. The other was fine. We were relieved and exhilirated. We jumped off the roof of a house! We didn't get hurt! It worked out to be a good consequence of accepting risk though every one of us knew it could have turned out much differently. Lesson learned? Maybe. I've never forgotten the experience though.

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