One of my friends posted a picture last week of a little kid holding a lit sparkler, but someone had poked the wire through a red plastic cup so the sparks wouldn't hit the child's hand. My first thought was to wonder if I needed to stop being friends with this person who thought that looked like a good idea. I did not.
She posted it because it was so ridiculous. Protecting kids is important, but there is a tendency these days to take it too far. The rest of the discussion around that picture surrounded the times we got hurt as kids and, in doing so, learned some valuable lessons.
First, the consensus among respondents to that picture was that we had all touched a hot sparkler wire after our parents had told us not to. Were we all the victims of bad parents? I don't think so. I think our parents had the right idea. They told us what to avoid and then stood back and let us learn the hard way.
It was probably hard to let us take our hits, but in the end they did us a favor. Not only did I learn not to touch hot sparkler wires, but I learned to listen to my parents when they warned me of danger.
There did actually come a time when I didn't have to see for myself what would happen if I did things my parents said not to do. The other benefit of being allowed to learn some lessons the hard way was that it made me better at thinking through my actions before actually undertaking them.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.