Sunday, March 19, 2006

A General Observation on Children

Children are devices which come with self-destruct mechanisms. It's true. I observed a group of them this morning, loitering on the lawn after church. In 15 minutes of watching while waiting for The Wife to get out of a meeting, the self-destruct mechanism triggered at least once on about 80% of the 10 or 15 kids I was watching...thank goodness it malfunctioned on all of them.

The child-self-destruct sequence is initiated in any situation where you get more than 2 or 3 of them together and don't give them something constructive to do. The sequence speeds up if you throw in a couple of skateboards, frisbees or whatnot. If you leave them in that state long enough without intervention, you're guaranteed a trip to the emergency room. The morgue isn't likely, except maybe in the case of any parents that are watching.

I witnessed some world-class biffs from skateboards, an encounter that looked from my vantage point a lot like an ultimate fighting match, and watched "Josie" almost push her head into her torso when a handstand went terribly awry. I was almost out of my seat on that one until she stood up and got her arm working again. Whew.

Stephen King made the observation through a character in "It" that "You can't be careful on a skateboard". In the same segment, he made it clear in soaring prose that while kids can ride skateboards to beat the devil, adults should stick to nothing racier than the odd stickshift, or maybe a motorcycle if you're a madman like yours truly.

He's absolutely right on all counts. Not only do kids alone have the necessary reflexes and balance to properly operate a skateboard, but they are the only ones with the resilience and flexibility to fall on any part of their body and bounce up like a superball. Plus, they're the only ones stupid enough to try some of this stuff.

I'm in awe.


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