I have this whiz-bang idea that my kids should be encouraged to act out the wild ideas that enter their hair-brained imaginations. Reining in my kids with boundaries is indeed essential, but why squelch their compulsion to explore? A hands-on childhood will teach them loads of marvelous skills, from problem solving, teamwork and self-confidence all the way to the importance of stain remover and following directions.
The problem with letting my little monsters sword fight or blow up vinegar and baking soda volcanoes in the kitchen is not so much the wildness of their actions (although that is always a concern) but my ability to say, ‘yes’ and put aside my nagging inner voice reminding me that we are out of Band-Aids or calculating the number of hours cleaning versus the number of minutes of play.
The most dangerously fun answer a parent can give to their child’s request for adventure is a resounding, ‘YES!’ For me that means pushing aside the feelings of fear that my kids will get hurt or of annoyance at what a pain in the neck it can sometimes be to drop what I am doing and teach my kids how to build a slingshot that they will most definitely use to shoot the dog or me with.
Aren’t wild curiosity and fearlessness parts of childhood? And shouldn’t I – shouldn’t we – want to be a central part of the crazy quests that kids will invent in the name of fun? My children will slapdash together bold and invincible-sounding schemes anyway, so I might as well jump on board with it to keep them safe and learning along the way.
As crazy as this list may sound, with appropriate adult supervision there is absolutely no reason why kids can’t try out these 25 possibly dangerous things:
1. Learn how to start a fire.
2. Climb a tree.
3. Sleep outside.
4. Run barefoot in a grassy field.
5. Tear apart an appliance and try to rebuild it.
6. Cook on a stovetop.
7. Run a lawn mower.
8. Talk to a stranger.
9. Shoot an arrow.
10. Catch a fish, kill it, cook it, and eat it.
11. Whittle a piece of wood with a knife.
12. Check out a beehive.
13. Hold a snake.
14. Chop wood with an axe.
15. Explore a cave.
16. Set off a Roman candle.
17. Flip a kayak or canoe.
18. Hammer nails.
19. Play with a chemistry set.
20. Learn to do a headstand.
21. Learn how to take a fall.
22. Roll down a hill.
23. Sword fight with sticks.
24. Look at the sun to see if it makes you sneeze.
25. Identify and eat edible flowers.
While it may sound spontaneous and brilliant to a kid to suggest any of these things, I’m going to state the obvious and suggest you look up the safety guidelines and consider proper supervision before trying these at home.