Deerfield Beach, FL, January 2011
[Click photo to embiggen]There's a conventional wisdom that compels parents to keep their children from contacting, thinking about, initiating or even being in the same room as anything remotely combustible. If my parents taught me one thing, it was to not play with fire.
So I had to ask myself if putting sparklers into my kids' hands just after the year ticked over from 2010 to 2011 was my smartest move as a parent. Sure, sparklers are supposedly considered the safest form of fireworks (at least according to the guy on the street corner who sold them to us.) But as I coached them to wave the burning sticks around in front of them while I stood there with my lens open, a couple of things dawned on me:
- These things burn hotter than the surface of the sun. Or at least they seem to.
- My children had absolutely no training in the use of hotter-than-the-sun combustibles.
- Neither did I.
- Neither did any of the other adults gathered around for this impromptu celebration of orbital mechanics.
Nah. At some point, the parent-nanny-state needs to stop. So I quietly let them go about the business of being kids, minor risks and all. Because eventually they'll need to learn how to navigate the planet. And if they run into some sparklers - or worse - along the way, it'll be handy to know what it feels like to get a few stray sparks on their skin.
Your turn: The difference between being protective and being smothering. Please discuss.