It’s amazing any of us lived through our childhood
As I read this story out of Delran about a dangerous way kids are riding their bikes, I thought to myself wow, yet a new way to end your life at childhood. I didn't think this in a judgmental way. To the contrary, I thought it more in terms of, "Why didn't we think of something this stupid?"
Because stupid most of us were. The latest example is being called "swerving", where teens on bikes are deliberately darting into traffic then swerving away at the last possible second. This one is particularly selfish in that it's involving other people. A driver can end up getting hurt by overreacting and overcorrecting.
When I was a kid (and I'm sure you probably too), we did things that we would scream at our own children now for even thinking about. Riding bikes behind "the bug man" is a great example. What better way to spend a summer afternoon than chasing after the mosquito control truck on your bike and breathing in from that giant cloud of pesticide you were enveloped in? Good times, right?
Setting fires in our own sandbox when I was 7 and my brother was 11 was another great way to pass some time. What's a first degree burn or two? The possibility of lifelong disfigurement compared to the cool way green plastic army men melted inside a raging bonfire had no chance.
Or how about when we scaled along the outside of a bridge instead of the sidewalk side, with only 3 inches of a ledge for our toes to hang onto? Clearly that was the smart way to get from one side of the bridge to the other.
The M-80's, the potato guns, the roman candle fights all made sense somehow. The playing a snowball fight until it got so serious we were tossing shards of ice and not snow and drawing blood and bruises in the process was all part of the fun.
You couldn't even blame the kids really. Not when the adults hadn't yet institutionalized safety. Playgrounds weren't made with rubbery soft fake ground. Hell, it wasn't even wood chips. It was a rock hard surface you'd face plant on if you came off those monkey bars the wrong way. Child safe plastic tubes to crawl through? No, no, no. It was those cement tubes you'd find on the side of a construction project that were there for you to crawl through. Never mind that one false move could land your front teeth to the back of your throat. You'd often see these very cement tubes at the playgrounds they had at old drive-in movies. Cars weren't regulated at one point. Seat belts? We didn't need any stinking seat belts. In fact on a long road trip we would just bounce around the hard cargo area in the back of dad's station wagon along with our brothers and cousins.
It feels like we want to say things were better then. The sad truth is some of us didn't survive. Those of us who did will look back at those times fondly, but we know there's a safer way for our own kids. We just have to be so careful about not being TOO careful. Kids need some bumps and bruises to learn how to do things right. They just don't need compound fractures.
What's going on in Delran with this nonsense of "swerving" is without a doubt beyond stupid. Don't have such a 'good' time in your childhood that it costs you finding out how much fun you can have being an adult.