Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Follies of Youth

What is it about kids that makes them so fearless?

Copyright Multiple Mayhem Mamma 2011
This is my daughter, Miranda. Upside down, no less. She was demonstrating her latest achievement: doing back-flips on the bars in the schoolyard. Whether she will attempt this same feat so fearlessly in her adulthood remains to be seen, but I'd say that answer is likely "no."

Kids, for the most part, have little fear. Okay, let me rephrase that: Kids, for the most part have little fear of things that many adults would find frightening, at best. Yes, I understand that they will bemoan "things that go bump in the night," but ironically flip head first upside down from monkey bars, swings, and other items that can be found at your local park. And let's not get into what they will attempt the amusement park. Somehow spinning in circles while being perched at a 45 degree angle is fun to a large contingent of the younger set. This propensity for all things thrill-inducing and stomach-turning is apparently the domain of the youthful. Somehow, somewhere along the way to adulthood, it abruptly stops.

Why is this?

I recall as a child and even into my teens, the love of the "scariest" rides at the amusement park. I would wait in line with baited breath for the opportunity to be flung skyward, with only the veneer of safety offered by the thinning latch on the "lock" that was secured by the traveling "Carny" working the ride. I guess that was part of the thrill. Injury - or worse - was not even part of the thought process as I was "secured" into my seat.
Image courtesy of www.sodahead.com

Yet here I am, many years later, and the thought of crossing the threshold to what I now believe must surely be a certain death - or dismemberment - makes me break out into a cold sweat. You couldn't pay me to get on one of these rides and I don't believe I'm alone in my hesitation.

It's an interesting phenomenon, this shift in attitude and general skittishness that seems to be part and parcel with adulthood. Interesting and sad. Because part of me envies the carefree, "devil-may-care" nonchalance of childhood (and adolescence). Perhaps it's a function of parenthood that makes our mortality ever more evident to us; the fact that we are more midful of our own safety because of our primal fear of something happening to us - that would leave our child or children without a parent. To this end, we project our fear of injury or worse onto our kids and accordingly put a damper on their good times - often.

Life goes on, we all grow up and we lose our ability to throw caution to the proverbial wind and simply "go for it." Instead we become a frightened and fretting bunch, standing at the foot of the carnival ride, our hearts in our throats with fear for our precious "babies." And if we look a little bit deeper into our psyche, I would venture to guess that there's a bit of envy bound up inside all of us as well. Envy that life has become a lot more serious as time has passed. Growing up is, evidently, a trade-off. You earn your adult "stripes," and in the process, lose a little bit of that je ne sais quoi that made the world your oyster so many years ago.

Sad, isn't it?

Were you more fearless as a child? Has your sense of fear changed since you became an adult, or more so when you became a parent? 

Burton Cummings - Great Canadian Talent - "I'm Scared"






3 comments:

Holly Ann said...[Reply]

Ya know, I was even a pretty cautious kid. But to this day, I love a good rollercoaster. My favorite is the New York New York rollercoaster here in Vegas. You should really take a vacation and try it out sometime! ;)

Samantha said...[Reply]

@Holly Ann Hi Holly, I can usually be coaxed onto a roller coaster though the fear still remains. I'd love to visit Vegas! It's on my "bucket list!"
Thanks for commenting.

Melanie said...[Reply]

I was definitely way braver as a child. I find it so hard to get out of my comfort zone now. I try really hard to not skip out on things if they are uncomfortable or scary because usually those things offer the greatest rewards and learning.

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