Have you ever noticed how some children are attracted to danger like moths are attracted to light?
When Peter was 7-months-old, he rolled off the changing table. With Peter screaming in my arms, I called 9-1-1. By the time the team arrived at the house, which was incredibly quick, Peter had calmed down whereas I was getting more hysterical by the minute.
The paramedic asked me, as he bounced a laughing Peter on his knee, if maybe I needed to go to the hospital. We all laughed, but inside I was still shaking. It was my first run-in with danger and I hadn't won.
Toddlerhood brought on new problems. Peter was obsessed with putting things in his mouth. I will never forget the time we stopped at a rest stop in New Jersey and within minutes of arriving, Peter was gnawing on a plastic chair. If he wasn't going to get hurt by falling, I was positive he would get sick with a disease. Funny fact: Peter hardly ever gets sick and I'm sure it has something to do with that rest stop.
Then there is Teddy, who is a born dare devil and makes Peter's earlier attempts at danger seem comical. At 20 months, Teddy had perfected an acrobatic flip out of his crib. We would put him down in the crib and a second later he would be walking down the hall behind us.
Teddy also jumped off the changing table. I obviously hadn't learned my lesson the first time around. He didn't cry though, and trust me when I say that he continuously tried to repeat that jump until I finally got rid of the changing table.
When Teddy was three, I found him with an open bottle of Motrin on the floor making little piles with the white pills. Somehow he was able to get the bottle from the top of my bureau, and open the kid-proof lid. After a quick phone call, we spent the rest of the day in the Springfield Emergency Room until we were given a clean bill of health. He had not ingested one pill.
Just recently, I screamed when I saw Teddy jump off the back of the bleachers at baseball practice. Teddy is always looking for the ultimate jumping opportunity. The higher the better.
He's not alone. Most kids love to jump off things. Last summer, my niece broke her arm when she jumped off her bunk bed. As she stood there crying in pain, instead of saying she shouldn't have done that, she announced that she obviously didn't put enough pillows on the floor to cushion the fall.
The older kids get, the bigger the dangers are that await them and, unfortunately for us parents, our control over the dangers diminishes greatly.
The other night at the baseball field, we saw a boy climb the tall backstop behind home plate. There was no game going on, he was just having fun. No one told him not to climb and no one told him to come down. He probably felt like the king of the world up there. Now that Teddy has seen that, what are the chances of him doing the exact same thing the minute I turn my back?
A few weeks ago when the Marple Newtown School District had half days for testing, I looked out my window to see a group of 12 kids walking down the middle of my street. We have sidewalks in Lawrence Park, but the kids were purposely walking down the middle of the street which frequently has high-speed drivers peeling around it's corners.
Then the other day we went to . My insides curled watching a group of boys riding their bikes and running across Sproul Road from .
I looked down at my boys eating their cherry and mango ice and told them they were never allowed to do anything so moronic in their lifetime. We taught them better than that.
Of course, deep down I knew that those reckless boys knew better. Their parents taught them the same lessons. They taught their kids not to run in the street. But what can you do when kids want to impress themselves or each other, and a surefire way to do that is by doing something dangerous and getting away with it?