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Entries in germs (1)

Friday
Feb282014

When is Dirt Dirty?

David Cooley - Used with permissionLook hard at the picture accompanying this post.

Is your reaction:

  •  Look at that daredevil…he is going to break his leg.  He is going to crack his skull open and bleed to death.  He’s nuts.
  • When is it my turn?

Increasingly I hear two lines of thinking when it comes to kids and the topic of risk.  Some believe in keeping kids in a bubble, protecting them from everything in the world.  Others take an approach of letting the child experience the world.

While I don’t advocate jumping off buildings as innocuous fun, it’s important for children to experience the world.  A middle of the road or temperate path may be best.  Some examples:

  • Germs – some parents want people to wash their hands before touching children.  While I wouldn’t want my children exposed to MRSA, some exposure is actually beneficial.  For example, the flu vaccine works by triggering your body’s immune system response. When you get a flu vaccine, your body recognizes the flu virus as a foreign invader and produces antibodies to it.

    So while I wouldn’t let my kids play in the sewer, playing in the dirt was OK.
  • School – schools are incubators for germs and ideas.  Ideas win over germs any day.
  • Fun – “When I was growing up, kids, we didn’t have video games.  We played.”  Yes, in the recent dark ages (my childhood) we did not have video games, and had three channels on our black and white TV.  We played outside.

    We didn’t have many organized activities.  In the nice weather, we played pick-up games of baseball, football, basketball, and the ever popular kickball.  We learned the rules from each other.

    We learned about things through trial and error.

    For example, we learned pretty quickly the “Thingmaker” was really hot – so we didn’t touch the molds when they first came out of the heater.  We learned about electricity by hooking up our train sets to the wall outlet, and learned touching the metal electrodes gave a big shock.  We learned about dams when we blocked a creek behind our houses.  We made igloos from snow we piled up in the yard.  We dragged our sleds to a hill by our house and spent the day outside.

    Now many activities are organized.  That’s great!  And parents have to let their kids “do their thing” and be supportive, not overbearing or controlling.
  • Time away from home – on non-school days we tended to head out by 9AM and had to be home by dark.  In the winter time, dark (in the Midwest) was around 5:30, and in summer it was starting to get dark around 9.  It was amazingly self-regulating – school was in winter and the sun set earlier.  During the summer, without school the next day, we didn’t come in until later.  (Our parents did want to know where we were, and a call from the (wired) telephone did the trick.

    So if your child is out of your sight, and you know where they are and they are safe…it’s OK!

    (I will also share when my kids were growing up I liked it when others came to our house.  I got to know their friends and never had to worry about where they were.)

So unless there is a medical condition, my recommendation is to let your kids be kids.  Your kids don’t have to jump off buildings to have fun.

For me, I have a buddy with a roof needing a good shoveling.  Wish me luck!