I admit it: I’m a punk overly cautious, protective to a fault. Particularly when it comes to my babies. I mean, I want Mari and Lila to be fearless to use their voice, speak their minds and follow their hearts, no matter if it leads them down a path less traveled. The path to success is paved with conviction and courage; I want my daughters to be bold.
But um, yeah, when it comes to letting them do dangerous crap? I’m not the one. While Nick is quick to encourage our girls to play with ugly bugs, helicopter jump off furniture, ride their bikes with no hands while the wind smacks their pretty little faces, I’m their personal Ambassador of No. There will be no jumping, touching, and putting bodies at risk under my watch. You’ll shoot your eye out.
They’re my babies, see, and I’m not about to put them in harm’s way or encourage them to do stupid stuff. My mother, God bless her soul, once told me that my job as a mother is to keep my kids from killing their fool selves as I escort them to adulthood. And I take my job seriously.
I do realize, though, that as an adult, there’s nothing worse than being captive to your fears, paranoias and phobias. But by the time you’re grown, it’s almost too late to change them without a $300 shrink or at the very least, scaring the hell out of yourself. I mean, I get why my parents never really spent a whole lot of time playing with me outside, but when that translates into me being willing to jump out of a moving car rather than face down a bug, or argue down the 11-year-old for a half hour about why it’s just not a good idea to swim in the ocean or have dinner out on the lovely deck in perfect weather, it’s a problem.
So in the interest of raising bold, fearless warriors with tiger’s blood rather, to keep my daughter’s punkness to the minimum I’m going to try to do some things a little different. This inspiration comes not from my husband but from Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler, authors of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) a fascinatingly fun book that offers a radical concept for us parents: Teach your children about safety by exposing them to risk. Tulley and Spiegler say that experimenting with dangerous things helps foster creativity and teach problem solving by encouraging children to explore the world around them.
In their book, coddling = helplessness.
50 Dangerous Things encourages us parents to nurture forgotten abilities with old-fashioned, hands-on learning, like burning things with a magnifying glass, taking apart a radio, and even shocking your tongue by licking a 9-volt battery.
Basically, stuff I’d NEVER allow Mari and Lila to do.
Which is precisely why I’m going to let my girls do them.
50 Things resembles a field guide, with easy-to-follow instructions, plus space for notes and completion dates for 50 child-friendly challenges. I’m picking 15 things from the book and making a bucket list of dangerous, dirty stuff the girls and I will do during summer vacation. Here they are:
Mari and Lila’s 15 Dangerous Things Bucket List
- Cooking Something In the Dishwasher
- Lick a 9-volt Battery
- Make A Bomb In A Bag
- Put Strange Stuff In the Microwave
- Look At the Sun
- Superglue Your Fingers Together
- Explode A Bottle In the Freezer
- Melt Glass
- Stick Your Hand Out the Window Of A Moving Car
- Drive A Car
- Boil Water In A Paper Cup
- Burn Things With A Magnifying Glass
- Make A Slingshot
- Deconstruct An Appliance
- Drive A Nail
I’ll be taking lots of pictures and the kids will be taking lots of notes as we complete the 15 Dangerous Things Bucket List and, of course, I’ll post the results here on MyBrownBaby. *Insert image of Denene making a sign of the cross* Pray for us!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.