16 March 2018


Well, Of Course It's Barmy!



When I was a kid in elementary school we had a merry-go-round just like that one in the picture above. The only difference is that the one I remember was on blacktop. We would get that thing loaded up with kids and spin it fast. Some kids ended up getting asphalt-skinned knees and elbows, but it was fun. 

That old merry-go-round came to mind when I read In Britain's Playgrounds, 'Bringing in Risk' to Build Resilience. The article begins...


"Educators in Britain, after decades spent in a collective effort to minimize risk, are now, cautiously, getting into the business of providing it."


The article leads with this delightful photo...



So, the Educators over there are getting concerned that by overprotecting children, the children are not developing properly; they are growing up without the resilience and grit of children in earlier generations.

Amanda Spielman, a school safety inspector in the UK, is one of the concerned. In This Article she tells of one school's safety decision, and renders her opinion...
"[A] primary school cancelled its sports day because of that grave menace, “dew on the grass.”
That strikes me as simply barmy. Schoolchildren have been sliding around on muddy fields for centuries, yet in this case they missed out on the end of term fun (and exercise) of sports day because of an overzealous approach to health and safety." 

Yep. That's barmy alright. That's so barmy it's laughable. Barmy. Barmy. Barmy.

The good part of this story (aside from some kids in Britain now getting to have more fun) is that I learned a new word.


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I was telling Marlene about this whole barmy risk-aversion way of raising children, and she reminded me of when two of our sons made their own medieval weapons...



And used them...



Then there were the homemade medieval flails (a.k.a., war maces)...



Oh, they were fun! ...



Those photos were taken twelve years ago. Robert, was 15 and James was 12. I wrote about them Here and Here. Good memories, they were.

I'm sure that most adults reading this did not experience the problems of a risk-averse, overprotective childhood. This would especially be the case if you were blessed to grow up in a rural area. You probably experienced a childhood of risk and adventure, and the great memories that kind of childhood provides (not to mention the development of resilience and grit). 

I'm no expert when it comes to raising kids. I could have done better. But one of the best things I did was deliberately live in a place where my sons had fields, and woods, and streams, and ponds. Places to roam and explore. And I gave them the tools they needed to make things. And I let them be boys.

That was a good thing. 

It was a right thing.

It was important. 

And, admittedly, it was barmy at times.

But it was barmy in a good way.


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Barmy means crazy, or foolish. According to Wikipedia, "the meaning, foolish, is cited as dating only from 1892, so this usage may be derived from Barming, in Kent, the location of the county's psychiatric hospital (colloquially loonybin)."

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24 comments:

  1. The primary injury that the majority of today's children should be concerned with is early onset of tendonitis in their thumbs from excessive ticky-tackying (my word for texting or playing with a phone) and video game playing. Makes me itch for a hammer when I see it ....
    Tim(fromOhio)

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    1. I'm on there same page with you there, Tim.

      I would not allow any computer games in the house when my kids lived here. I hated them with a passion. So, they played them at their friend's house.

      Delete
  2. good memories! We will have to do a re-enactment of this. Complete with the neighbor kid coming over to join us battle it out, then shortly after walking home crying. There’s Nothin like a hunk of firewood to the shin to build some character.. the amount of old plywood and roofing nails we used to build stuff as kids was unreal, I’m surprised we didn’t have that many flat tires with all the projects we did in the driveway in front of the shop. Lol

    From. Herrick’s middle son ( pictured in red Kansas shirt. )

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    1. Nice comment, Robert.
      It brought a big smile to this old dad's face.

      Delete
    2. Elizabeth L. Johnson said, It brought a smile and a laugh to me, also!!! In our home the t.v. could not come on unless Dad turned it on. I made our children play outside, and I didn't appreciate Nintendo being played when it was allowed. I had never wanted it allowed in the house!

      Delete
    3. “Kansas”???

      And here I was, ready to shout Woo Pig Sooie with you!

      Delete
  3. LOL... have you never read the Chronicles of Narnia? Specifically the voyage of the Dawn treader? You would have learned the word barmy in there. By the way, my favorite toy growing up in Central Florida was a machete. That would’ve been in the 70s.

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    1. I have never. :-(
      A machete for a toy? ... For a girl?
      That's just barmy!
      (but barmy in a good way)
      :-)

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  4. Wonderful post and I love Robert’s comments!

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    1. Me too (re: Robert's comment). That was a nice surprise.

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  5. That was great. I have 3 older brothers and I tagged along and did dare-devil stuff right along with them. We played in creeks, shot bow and arrows, climbed trees and made forts in the woods dug into a dirt bank and completed with tree limbs, leaves and wild grape vines. We grew up with BB guns and shotguns. In the winter we rode sleds and ducked under barbed wire, rode a Quarter horse without saddle and just a bridle to guide plus numerous other fun dangerous deeds. My brother swung me onto a haystack and it broke my collarbone. The worst may have been when my dad bought me a second hand bike and when I got going fast, the brakes would give out. I once had to take a ditch to avoid an oncoming car on the road.

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    1. Wow.
      It's a wonder you survived childhood, Joy!

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  6. oh yeah, and we ran with scissors.

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    1. Oh, remembering another fun deed: In Kindergarten I climbed atop the storage cubby holes (where we placed our coats and sweaters) and took a flying leap onto a wood see-saw and broke it in half. I was disciplined by being made to sit outside the classroom where a box of books had been serendipitously been placed. I so enjoyed my punishment while looking through those books that I didn't want to rejoin the class! That may have been the beginning of my love for reading still enjoyed today. On my report card, the teacher added a handwritten note in the comments section: "Joy needs to settle down." I still love to tell others about that comment! Growing up with brothers (no sisters!) was a fine thing indeed.

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  7. I think Joy and I were neighbors !! LOL !!! Got shot with the BB gun a few times..., loved building forts in the woods ...etc.

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    1. Nice. I was hoping for recollection comments like I got here.
      Thanks, Karen.

      Delete
  8. My son is going through the wooden swords stage right now. Having difficulty finding my tools.

    The other day, he asked me if I had ever made a parachute. "Of course!" I replied. I just took a blanket and tied baler twine to each of the corners and then grabbed all the strings and held them in my hand. I tested it by jumping off the chicken house. Good thing it was only a 10 foot jump.

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    1. That's funny. My kids are grown up now and I still have trouble finding my tools. It wasn't always their fault. :-)

      One bit of advice... If your son makes a particularly impressive sword, and he loses interest in it, and you see it laying around outdoors, pick it up and put it somewhere to save. I have such a sword somewhere.

      Glad you survived that parachute jump.

      I once jumped a pretty good distance out of a hay mow onto what I thought was a pile of loose hay, but it was a little bit of loose hay over a piece of farm equipment. That was a surprise.

      Delete
  9. Myself, my brother and a couple of other kids would have "wars" with another set of kids from another part of the Island. We had wooden swords and sometimes a garbage can lid and we would go at each other hammer and tongs, and throwing rocks at each other too! When we got tired of that , it was off to the grocery store to get a quart of soda and a big bag of cookies we all shared till the next war ensued!

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    1. Everett,

      I think your childhood might make for a good movie. Having read your biography, I know you had more than your fair share of risk as a kid.

      I’m wondering if you still have the axe (or hatchet) that accidentally got stuck in your young skull so many years ago?

      Delete
  10. Growing up on 14 acres of woods with five other siblings and some farm animals, I have no lack of similar stories. Our favorite is the time my brother, 7 at the time, managed to get the two youngest, 2 years old, onto the tin roof of the cowshed, and then was unable to get them down. We spent whole days outside barefoot climbing trees, building playhouses, picking blackberries, wading in the creek, and getting all manner of bumps and scratches without giving them a thought - and loving every minute of it!

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  11. Elizabeth L. Johnson said, My twin brother and I and our cousin had pine cone wars! We both had BB guns, and loved to slip and slide on a frozen pond, before we crashed through the ice falling in! We rode our shetland pony through the creek, and watched mom fish in the catfish pond many a night until midnight when we'd walk a few miles home in the moonlight. These things made such an impression on me, that now I'm a country girl, loving the mountain life!!!!!!!!!

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