Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We all survived in a time before laws

There is a new law in Shoreline. For now on, any person who jumps off the Pier will be sited and forced to attend personal accountability classes -- if you get caught. Or, better yet, if you don't drown.

"Well, we aren't actually going to enforce this law," one commissioner said (paraphrasing), "but if we happen to see someone jumping off the pier, or climbing up onto the pier, we're going to site the parties involved."

I understand the intent behind this law: it is to try to force kids, or any adult dumb enough to try this, to think twice before jumping off the pier.

"The theory here is that someone has to jump in first. And, just to be cool, other kids are jumping in. And there have been five deaths as a result, we think, of people jumping off the pier in the past couple summers.

"After that first kid jumps in, we want the other kids to think twice about how irresponsible what that first kid did. And how irresponsible it will be for him or her to to the same."

I understand it's a noble idea, but I highly doubt a bunch of kids are going to be sitting around thinking about getting caught. In fact, such a law might make it more exciting. Part of the joy in jumping off the pier is the joy in knowing you are doing something risky.

There are signs on the pier that say, "This pier is for official business only and not for public use. Proceed at your own risk." As I look out there when I'm driving by the beach on a warm summer day, I see many people who completely ignore this sign.

Of course I know the purpose of that sign is to remove any liability of the county in regards to someone having an accident while being on the pier, or "accidentally" falling off.

When I was a kid I did things far "stupider" than jumping off the pier. Once I was walking across a bridge over the Mitton River which was way high over the river --scary high. And one of my friends said, "Let's jump in."

"Um," one of us said, "Isn't it kind of high."

"I know people who have jumped off before. I think it's safe."

"I don't know," I said. I was afraid of heights also, and I was praying that my friends would decide against the idea and just keep walking, but before I could even finish my sentence, Robby
jumped in.

We all stood on top, leaning over just slightly, and waited, hoped, prayed that he would come back to the surface with his whole body intact.

He did. And then my other friends jumped in behind him. So, having no choice unless I wanted to be the only "chicken," I jumped in. And I know for a fact that my feet hit bottom, and I propelled myself to the surface.

I look back and think how stupid that was, and how any one of us could have died that day. None of us would have made it past our 18th birthdays. Even so, I climbed back onto the track, as did my friends, and jumped off two more times. How is that for irresponsible?

We all survived. Was there a law against jumping off the bridge? I didn't know nor did I care. None of us cared. All we wanted was a little fun and excitement.

Would I want my kids to do the same? Absolutely not. Will I encourage my kids to not do something stupid like that? Absolutely.

Did my wife ever jump off the peir when she was a kid? She did. She was just as much of a risk taker as any other teenager. So I suppose, unless we turn out to be exceptionally great parents, there's little hope our two kids will not do something like this. And if we're anything like our parents, we might just encourage it (then again, it wasn't against the law when we were kids either).

I remember my dad and uncle used to encourage us kids to jump into the Mitton river and ride the currents through the huge tubes under the road. If we couldn't manage to stop ourselves by grabbing onto a stump or some grass on the opposite end of the tube, who knows what would have happened to us.

My dad and uncle jumped right in with us. It was fun. There might even have been snakes in the tubes riding the waves with us. That just kind of added to the excitement.

When we were kids we used to stand up in the front seat while our parents drove. I remember once mom telling me how I fell asleep standing up in the car.

When we went on long trips when we were kids mom would put a playpen in the back of the station wagon for my baby brother to sleep in. I remember sleeping on the floor, or over the back seat.

In 1981 and 1985 dad drove us to Florida in a van, and instead of encouraging us to buckle up, he made the back into a huge bed and we enjoyed the ride that way, watching TV and playing games while lying on our stomachs.

Nonetheless, we all survived.


icanseeclearlynow said...

i read a post similar to this a few months back. there were so many things that were good and untainted about our childhood years. you sound like you come from a wonderful family, freadom.

these days things have changed so much. but don't worry, our kids will find one or two risks and they'll take them and laugh with pride that they did.



Freadom said...

I did something stupid once and got in trouble by the police, and my dad bailed me out without a word. He told me he did the same stupid think when he was a kid, got busted too, and the police officer gave him a ride home.

That's one thing I love about the man. He's pretty cool. I'll probably be the same way as my kids grow up.

Nikki said...

I liked this post too. I thought about all the stupid stuff I did and we just live in a different world today!! I remember when I was young it was be home before dinner and off we went to roam the neighborhood at a VERY young age!! Now I watch my son walk across the street and he is 10. I had a friend die cliff diving at Lake Powell. He belly flopped and it was like hitting cement from a tall building.....yes with age comes the scaredy cat or the ability to foresee things. A nice break from politics!!! :)N