Knives & Scythes & 9 year olds

In the last few months I’ve seen my son with:
– a knife sticking out of his leg, and
– an electronic game sticking out of his hands

And though I know this will get me labeled with the tag “worst mother in the world”, looking back, I’m much more comfortable with the knife in the leg situation.

In Daniel Goleman’s book Ecological Intelligence, he writes: “…Nature hard-wired the brain’s alarm circuitry to spot and recoil immediately from objects hurtling toward us, threatening facial expressions, snarling animals, and like dangers in our immediate surroundings…But nothing in our evolutionary past has shaped our brain for spotting less palpable threats like the slow heating of the planet, the insidious spread of destructive particulates in the air we breathe and things we eat…”

So, when I compare a knife sticking out of his leg and an electronic game sticking out of his hands – I’m really comparing an immediate threat to his physical health (that in this instance was manageable), with a long term threat to his physical and psychological health (that may prove unmanageable).

The knife in the leg came about when he creatively combined his fishing knife with a series of acrobatic Ninja moves on a trampoline. It led to a whole range of outcomes including:
– sitting in emergency watching the comings and goings of other patients and learning about what others have to deal with
– overcoming his fear of blood and stitches…it wasn’t as bad as he thought
– an animated chat with the doctor about how different tribes spear each other in exactly the same spot as it avoids all major arteries and isn’t life threatening
– a realization that knives and trampolines don’t mix
– a sewing lesson to fix the ripped jeans
– a renewed interest in cooking because the kitchen is a place he’s allowed to use the knife to chop, slice and dice
– an intriguing scar
– a memorable childhood experience

On the other hand, the electronic game in the hands has lead to:
– His fingers moving faster
– A lot of sitting
– Anger when asked to stop playing

So the other day when he asked to use a very sharp scythe, it was easier for us to say yes to that than yes to another computer game. Though going to hospital with a scythe embedded in his leg might raise some eyebrows!

I think we’ll continue to wrap the kids in cotton wool after they’ve had the accident…not wrap them in it so they never do. What about you?

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