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Why is it that kids think they are immortal?

Why is it that kids think they are immortal? Could it be the exuberance of youth, or perhaps the insatiable need for entertainment that keeps them from thinking about the alternative. No, some of them will be here forever, or so they think.

So many times I have driven by skateboard parks only to see less than 10% of participants wearing helmets, if any at all. And these are very elaborate parks, paid for with tax dollars... mostly to keep teens off the steps at city hall. Or what about the group of kids riding their bikes, and although wearing helmets, the helmets remain unfastened, making them virtually useless? What purpose is served by a helmet that isn't put on properly? You can be sure it will be found over six feet away from the victim.

I've often joked about 'culling the herd' when I feel that kids think they are immortal. A fairly mean concept but hear me out. Folks in my day rode bikes without helmets, swam in the local lake, played with insects and frogs, and didn't worry about drinking from the same bottle. And... we could eat peanut butter. And... I had never even heard of Asthma. If someone did something stupid like jumping off a bridge into a river, he usually paid the price. If he didn't make it, well, we just culled the herd, didn't we? Suffice to say, those that were smart and healthy enough made it to a ripe old age. A kind of natural selection.

Today, however, it's a different story. Why does society feel compelled to protect those who wish to skateboard down railings, or ride down rocky terrain and the like without suitable gear. If they want to hurt themselves, it's none of our business. When governments make laws which effectively remove a responsibility from parents, the parents are being told they can't do their job. And, if they truly can't, then should we look forward to what their offspring will deliver down the rode?

Certain activities are so dangerous that they should only be attempted by professionals. Unfortunately, these extreme sports, as some are called, are displayed on television for all to see and our young to mimic. Not to mention the effects of legalized violence in professional team sports. Kids need to know that damage to their body is usually permanent and sometimes life threatening.

I won't say I didn't have my share of wipe-outs, but I did learn from the bad ones. So what's with the dudes that endure horrific tumbles, only to do it all over again? If they don't learn... end up damaging themselves again, and public health fixes them, hmmm. Who is dumber, the enthusiast, his parents, or our society? We can't fix society. The enthusiast is the product of bad parenting... too late. So I guess it's all up to you.

When kids think they are immortal, they probably haven't experienced a death in the family, or a severe illness or accident. Having worked for a large cemetery company for a short while, I noticed a marked difference in the maturity of children attending wakes and memorials. Not that they were simply sad or grieving, but that their whole demeanor was less child-like. Some had grown up overnight. Should we bring our kids to funeral homes? Not in the least, but talking to your child about some of the harsher realities when faced with a news report or witnessing an accident might just do them some good. Take an interest the instant you notice that your child has laughed at, made fun of, or ignored someone else's misfortune, illness or death.

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