It looked bad, as he clutched his wrist and grimaced in pain. Joshua,was just 11, and he was all boy. He had been stunt-jumping on his bicycle and had “biffed it,” adolescent talk for “had a major accident and lived to tell.”
This was a familiar path we trod to the Emergency Room. I don’t how many, but it was at least 10. And we even had a nurse in the house to mitigate some of the emergencies, but still this son of mine lived a rough-and-tumble life.
The wrist was broken. This was the third broken one in three successive Junes. The poor kid thought that summer vacation in a cast was normal. He didn’t’ whine. He didn’t mope. It was a two-hour diversion from the rest of summer. He played baseball, football and soccer with that cast. We went to the gulf of Mexico and he was outfitted him with a waterproof sleeve that was bright blue, warning the underwater world that this was a boy not be messed with.
Don’t Take All the Fun Out of Living
Throughout the rest of the year, he was usually sporting bandages, wraps, compresses or casts. Any day, I was expecting some overly-sensitive child protective services agent to knock on the door, waving papers. I was ready to fight for my son’s right to be a boy.
He’s put all that medical experience to good use. He’s now a top nurse at a hospital and I’m so proud of him. I wonder how many little boys he’s cared for over the years and he looked at them with knowing look. “Dude, how you got this injury is just so awesome.”
The news is filled with “scary” things. Foods that kill. Everyday activities that threaten. Household products that maim. You don’t want to dive into something purposefully harmful. But since when did the world become such a frightening place to live?
No wonder new mothers and fathers are so protective. It seems like danger lurks around every corner There’ s a new report about how dangerous bouncy castles are! And the call is to ban them. Really?There is something about living on the edge that is dismissed as foolishness in our grown-up society.
What’s the difference between Dangerous and Stupid?
Now I would never advocate being stupid with your child’s health. And common sense safety is important for everyone. But if we miss out on wonder for the sake of safety, what have we gained?
My problem is that I have mistaken dangerous things for stupid things, and made tragic mistakes that were just plain dumb. I’ve spent a lifetime sorting out the difference.
The older we get, the more measures we take. We just play it safe. We don’t walk on the ledge because we might fall, meanwhile we miss the view. We don’t run down the mountain, hair flying in the wind because we might trip. We forget what it is to spin on the merry go round so many times our insides are turned out and our faces hurt with laughter.
A Dangerous Faith
And there’s a call to exercise my faith dangerously. It means following that nudge to do the right thing, even when public opinion is against me. It means walking the high wire to reach the other side where the untouchables, the broken, are. It means living on the edge of popular culture with a distinctively unpopular message.
Josh wore his casts with pride, happily retelling the exploits behind them. I thought they would ruin his summers, but actually they were testaments to a life lived well. And to this date he has a list of scars and a story behind every one of them.
Living dangerously sounds scary. But once you’ve ducked under the “do not cross” tape, you’re one step closer to joy.