This week I heard a report about a Long Island middle school that decided to ban most balls including footballs, basketballs, and baseballs during recess. Apparently the decision was made to protect kids from injury. I wasn’t really surprised since society has been metaphorically taking away kids’ balls for decades. It did, however, make me reminisce about all the fun and creative ways my friends and I found to hurt ourselves and each other when I was growing up.
Don’t you wish as an adult you could still get hours of entertainment out of clumps of hard dirt? I can recall no greater feeling than beaming someone in the temple with a well-formed dirt clod. The real danger in this game is that there is really no good way to distinguish between a clod of dirt and a rock covered in dirt. Clod fights were synonymous with rock fights in my neighborhood.
Ah, county fairs. . . fair fish, rides, games, and dangerous weapons sold to children. At the county fair where I grew up the only thing the vendor at the weapons stand cared about was green. He had no problem selling brass knuckles, knives, samurai swords, or blow dart guns to teenagers who were able to score a $20 from their parents. My friends and I loved the blow dart guns. Our favorite game was to give someone a 5-second head start to run before we sent a sharp metal projectile going over 100mph at their back. If you were too lazy to actually use the blow dart gun itself the darts were also very good for stabbing.
Growing up I had two sets of Everlast boxing gloves that I’m pretty sure were bought at a toy store. We didn’t bother with silly weight classes or rules. There was no referee. We would just joyously and mercilessly beat each other until someone cried and threatened to tell. I’m pretty sure my deviated septum came from a good shot a friend of mine gave me to the nose.
“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” I never shot my eye out but I think a few birds lost theirs. I remember my grandpa going to the woods with me to shoot my bb gun. He decided to shoot a half-deflated basketball we found in the woods. The bb came back and hit him on the cheek. Needless to say I learned from the best.
What were your favorite life-threatening games as a child? I think that instead of trying to keep our kids from getting hurt we should try to teach them how not to get hurt. If someone throws a hard ball at you, catch it or get the hell out of the way! That is a much better life lesson than leading our kids to believe someone will always be there to remove the danger from their lives. Let’s face it, life is full of hard balls.
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