Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Fear of Death

A crazy thing happened yesterday; well, a few crazy things happened yesterday.  First, it was the saddest day of the year.  Why?  Because yesterday was the last softball game on the schedule.  During the game, while playing first base, I managed to lose a ball, being thrown to me by our strong-armed third baseman, in the sunlight and it glanced off of my glove and forcefully struck the right tip of my chin unleashing a torrent of blood the likes of which have not been seen in my lifetime.  I rubbed some dirt on it and finished the inning, like an idiot a real man should.  I also happened to be the first one up for the bottom of the inning, so I didn't really have time to fix it.  I just continued to bleed out as I lined out to third.  Anyway, my shirt was ruined and I have a new nickname for next year - "Blood" - which I think is a pretty bad-ass nickname.  If you sickos "Like" me on Facebook, you can see the pictures!

The second crazy thing that happened was during the game as well. There was a high-speed chase involving a stolen motorcycle and several police vehicles. Now, what's crazy about this chase is that the young man on the crotch-rocket was travelling at speeds approaching 120mph on country roads. At the time he was passing our field, he was entering the town of Gettysburg which is undergoing massive street repair during the busiest part of the tourist season (what planning commission?). What we saw from the field was the bike, followed by four police cruisers, speeding into town and then, out of our view, we heard the sirens stop. After reading the paper this morning, I found out that a policeman flagged down a tour bus driver and asked him to use his bus to block the road. The man on the bike came over the hill and hit his brakes, sliding over 400ft with no helmet, and striking the bus. He was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

I had to wonder what was going through the guy's mind that day. He was being pulled over for not wearing eye protection when the police found that the bike was stolen. So, in his mind, I'm sure he weighed his options and escaping sounded better than going to jail. This is why guys are dumb sometimes. They actually think they can escape! You can't outrun communications, and if the helicopters get involved, forget about it!  Movies aren't real and you aren't Jason Statham.  But, at the moment he decided to run, it probably seemed like he had a chance with nothing but straightaways on the Lincoln Highway.  After all, he is on a bike that is capable of doing 120+mph.  What I don't understand is that if you are willing to go that fast to escape, you must be willing to die.  Bikes don't come to gentle stops while travelling 120mph.  It's simple physics.  Now, as he comes into the town of Gettysburg, passing our field and giving us some entertainment after all of the carnage, he pops up over a hill and sees a bus blocking the highway.  At this moment, he makes a critical decision.  At the very moment sudden death (hitting the side of a bus at 120mph) is staring him in the face, he hits his brakes and slides over 400ft into the side of the bus and escapes with non-life-threatening injuries.  At that critical moment, he decided that a few months (or more) in prison sounds better than hitting the side of a bus. Chicken... my toddler would have hit the bus.

My toddler is like the guy on the motorcycle, only she's doesn't chicken out.  If I let her, she would dive head-first off of the bed to retrieve a ball or toy.  If I didn't make her stop, she would stuff her mouth so full of food that she couldn't breathe.  If my wife and I didn't keep her seated, she would dance in the bathtub until she fell and broke something.  If I didn't stop her from doing it, she would go down every sliding board head first.  If I didn't catch her, she would probably stick every metal object into an electrical socket.  Toddlers have no fear of death.  They don't even have the ability to weigh the options.  To them the options are fun, food and exploring - no matter the cost.

I never realized how important the role of a parent is, but it, at least during the toddler years, is literally keeping your children from killing themselves, so I'd say the stakes are pretty high.  Kudos to all of you parents with toddlers out there, I know exactly what you're going through!  I also know why people have invented kid leashes and harnesses: it's to help in this effort to keep kids from breaking their necks.  But honestly, if your third-grader needs that kind of restraint, then you probably messed up a while back, right?  You see, a child should generally stop trying to break their neck somewhere around the age of four or five.  Don't get me wrong, they will still do stupid things (mostly to get the attention of the opposite sex), but by kindergarten, they should have stopped this behavior because they have learned that there are consequences for their actions.  They begin to feel pain, so they don't take as many risks as they did as a toddler.

But pain does not teach your children everything.  If you don't teach your toddler that their actions have other consequences besides pain, you are only making it tougher on yourself as they get older and start attending school.  If they have no idea that there are consequences, then they will continue with the toddler mindset - fun, food and explore - all to get the attention of someone who either rewards them with laughter or to get someone to show them the way.  As a toddler, their actions are screaming for someone to show them that there are consequences.  Give them what they want and start when they're young.  They will thank you later when they see a guy who ran into the side of a bus at 120mph.

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