Safety First!

Ed and I are lucky to be alive. No, we haven’t contacted the virus. Not that I’m aware of anyway, but from everything “they” say, we might not know we have it. We’re lucky to be alive because we survived our childhood. Actually, our entire lives. Since we’re well into the “senior citizen” category, not sure how we’ve managed that.

I’ve seen TV promos for Martha Stewart’s new show, and she enters the screen on horseback. She’s traveling at a snail’s pace, but she’s wearing a helmet. Hmm Before I entered the Air Force, I lived on my parents’ small farm in California. My dad decided a good way to make extra money was by boarding horses in the pasture, so we had two horses running around the property.

I love horses and decided I needed to ride one. A beautiful chestnut stallion. Of course, I didn’t have a saddle but that didn’t deter me. Nor did the fact he had a cropped mane and I also didn’t have reins or a bridle. You don’t really need anything to hold on to, right? Well, if a horse gets spooked by your dog and charges down the hill to safety, they’d come in handy. I ended up being thrown off and rolled down the hill, losing my glasses in the process. I had to go back up to the house and get Mom to help me look for them. And endure a two-hour “What were you thinking?” lecture. But it was worth it. And, no, I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Yet I’m still alive. Go figure.

In my much younger days, i.e. pre-teen, I used to love roller skating. I’d circle the block for hours, skating down the seen-better-days sidewalk, ending up more than once with skinned knees when I’d hit one of the cracks wrong. My folks didn’t give a second thought to the fact I wasn’t wearing a helmet, kneepads, and a suit of armor to protect me. Why I didn’t get kidnapped escapes me, because I was out of sight for quite some time and skated past a rather seedy bar and car repair shop. Either no one wanted to kidnap me, or they figured I’d just zip by them too fast, but it never entered our minds that might be a dangerous thing to do.

We were too poor for us to own bicycles, so as a child, I really didn’t learn how to ride one. One time, we were visiting friends in Colorado and their son let me ride his bike. I’m a quick learner and riding a bike really isn’t rocket science, so I was having a ball. Well, until I hit a rock on the dirt path and ended up on the ground a few feet away from the river I almost fell into. Helmet? No. Kneepads? Uhm…nope. Since I was accident prone as a child, perhaps that’s why my knees are so crappy now. I spent too much time with scraped ones, and it’s caught up with me.

Bruce felt sorry I never had a bike, so he bought me a shiny red one. After he died and Ed came along, we got Ed a bike and we’d ride around the neighborhood. On one of our evening rides, it started raining and we were racing to get home. I, of course, was winning and figuratively patting myself on the back when I zipped into the cul-de-sac ahead of him. Yep, slick street. Duh. I skidded straight toward Bruce’s truck.

Not wanting to hurt my bike by crashing into the truck, I dumped the bike and I slammed into the truck. Didn’t hurt the truck. My body? Well, let’s just say I found out what happens when you crack a rib. It hurts. But the bike was safe. Priorities, people! As an FYI, my hubby was very solicitous. Of course, on the way back from the ER, he did ask if sex was out of the question, so I’m not sure exactly where his priorities were.

My best friend Maggie is just as whacked as I am. We used to ride our bikes all over the neighborhood and sometimes we’d take her beautiful dog, Remington, with us. Before you get concerned, yes, Maggie would have him on a leash. Quite the feat, if you ask me. Riding a bike and leading a dog, but Maggie is pretty adept at that kind of thing. I won’t even mention the times she failed at the task, or how we’re still friends after I spent a considerable amount of time laughing at her lying on the pavement.

Ed and I talk about that a lot. How times have changed. If we’d have worn a helmet doing half the stuff we shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, people would have laughed us out of town. Nowadays, if a child isn’t suitably protected, child protective services will be called. Yep. Times have definitely changed.

For the better? Probably, in some instances, but there is something to be said about living life dangerously. It does teach you to be more careful, or at least it should, although in my case that’s debatable. I did so much stupid stuff as a kid I’m not sure I ever learned the “be careful” lesson. But I know one thing. Failure is a lesson everyone should learn. How after a massive failure, you get back up, put a bandage on your scraped knee and carry on. People should be allowed to fail. Kids, especially, should be allowed to fail. That’s how you learn that life goes on, it will be okay, and next time perhaps you’ll be more careful. Limping around for a few days because you all but broke a kneecap carries a much stronger lesson than listening to a two-hour parental lecture on why you shouldn’t do something.

Am I advocating for horseback or bicycle riding without a helmet? No. But let’s stop protecting our children from failure. Everyone shouldn’t get a participation trophy. Someone should be allowed to win. And someone should have to face coming in last. It’s how you learn that winning is good and losing sucks. Whether you have a helmet on or not.

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