Kneepads? No way.

Posted On May 12, 2015

I heard from a friend recently whose son turned his knee the size of a grapefruit at the skate park after refusing to wear knee pads because they’d make him “look like a nerd.”

And while the parent in me shook his head slowly at the youthful ignorance and vanity, the rest of me understood completely.

I wouldn’t have worn knee pads or a helmet as a kid to ride a skateboard, a bicycle or a rocket-powered street luge. No amount of cajoling from my mother would have made a difference. Had she made me put them on before leaving the house, I would have taken them off as soon as I got out the door.

But there was no need. She never asked. None of my friends’ parents did, either.

And I’m not alone. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune produced an insightful look recently at all the many dangers Baby Boomers lived through as kids. Many of them still held true for Gen-Xers coming up two decades later.

Child safety locks? Those would have prevented the joy of many of our favorite family photos, with me sitting in the cupboard with a pot on my head.

Seat belts? A lot of cars we rode in didn’t have any in the back seat. And there certainly weren’t any in the bed of the pickup truck we piled into to be taken down to the lake.

Padded playground mats? We were lucky if we landed in the grass when we fell and not in the hard-packed dirt into which most of our metal slides and monkey bars were rooted.

Sports concussions? Walk it off – the universal remedy for any sports injury in our childhoods.

All this sounds crazy now, but we survived – most of us anyway. So are we, years later, the crazy ones for turning our houses into Fort Knox and wrapping our kids up like Ralphie Parker’s little brother Randy in “A Christmas Story” every time they leave the house?

Of course not. Because we also remember skinned knees and broken arms and twisted ankles, and we’d like to save our kids the trouble of suffering them. Our parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. We’re doing the same.

And if we skinned a few knees along the way, it makes for a good story to start with “when I was your age ….”

Categories: Parenting