Sunday, January 03, 2010

In praise of risk

From the age of 11 to 16 I used to play in woods near our house in Lancaster. We built treehouses, slid down hillsides, watched trains go by and probably were a nuisance from time to time. I think about what our boys do and should be allowed to do all the time.

Near our house in Marple is a dense thicket of woodland and bushes. The kids call it "the forest" and we have have told them they mustn't go there. They do, of course, because they are boys. They like adventure.

When the snow fell over the Christmas holidays the boys wanted to go sledging. The best place nearby was Marple golf course. I'm sure the greenkeeper will be appalled, but some of the slopes, particularly on the edge of greens were popular with local kids. For our three older boys the best one was a steep drop with a stream running at the bottom. Note to greenkeeper: this slope was "out of bounds" so no green was harmed in the production of this fun activity.

The first mad surge of youth saw a bold attempt to reach the golf course by navigating the forest. However, it ended in success for three, injury to one and very cold hands for the youngest who attempted it gloveless. A rescue operation had to be embarked upon by me.

On another occasion one of the lads found his way back home through the forest. Part of me was cross, but mostly I was impressed at his ingenuity. The others retreated when they were shouted at by a grown up. I don't blame the person concerned, but am pleased my boys are doing this close to home. This is part of growing up, I have a pride in their spirit, however much danger they expose themselves to.

There are also rough older kids round here. Some tried to set fir trees on fire on Saturday close to where our lads were mucking about in the snow. My greatest pride of all was the reaction of our lads to that: "how stupid can you get?"

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