I got my nephew a skateboard for Christmas. That was the easy part. The question of knee and elbow pads was far more controversial. The debate raged on for weeks. It was between the me that is so protective of him that I want to knock down other kids at the park if they look at him wrong, and the me that wants him to be a little tough, and a little rebellious, and knock those kids down himself.
That’s the me that says, “Scars are sexy right? They’re cool badges of honor for shit you’ve done, and you get to wear them right on your skin.”
The other me counters with, “If he hurts himself he could be so traumatized that he’ll never enjoy the skateboard or anything else.”
And then I’m all, “I don’t want him to be hurt unnecessarily, but I don’t want him to be deprived of cool scar stories. Plus scars give you something fun to talk about after the first time you sleep with somebody.”
I respond with a shocked, “I hope you’re talking about his wife on his wedding night.”
Then we laugh because neither myself, nor I are uptight about sex. Of course there’s a fine line between protecting a kid and not letting them have any fun. To those parents that make their kids wear knee pads and helmets to the park to play, you have gone too far. Your kids are not going to be ok when they grow up. I’m sorry, but they’re not. And they’re going to hate you.
Not wanting him to grow up hating me because he’s scar-less, I decided against the pads, but then there was the couch incident. It is riotously fun to stand on the arm of the couch and flop onto the cushions. I was alarmed when this game first began, but it’s been going on for quite a while and he’s gotten really good at not killing himself with the couch. So my guard was way down when he went off the arm of the couch backwards and whacked the crap out of himself on both the table and the floor.
It was all very traumatic for both of us and there were tears, and an icepack, and finally a cookie which brought the wailing down to a whimper, and then he had to stop crying altogether so he could demand more cookies. I felt like a terrible watcher and it became obvious to both of me that he doesn’t need help collecting cool scars. We all have them, no matter how much our parents and super-cool aunts tried to prevent it. So I went ahead and got him the damn pads, but not the helmet, because real men can take a head injury.
Of course, so far nothing has convinced him to put them on.
P.S. As of this post, neither of us has actually knocked another kid down.