Sticks are dangerous. They may look innocent, lying on the ground being brown. And sticky. But once riled, they are deadly.
Probably your primary job as a parent is to keep your children safe. Easy. Just wrap them up and lock them in a soft room until they’re old enough to vote.
Turns out, protecting your kids from all possible dangers basically ruins their childhood, so the bubble rap clothes and padded cell are out. Instead, we have to try to manage risk. And not go crazy imagining the worst possible outcome of every situation.
My son lets out a blood curdling war cry and advances on his sister, stick raised to strike. We have to have some words about beheading. Luckily he soon loses his stick, which he’s not happy about.
Then he finds another stick. This one is the mother and father of all sticks. It’s twice his height and pointy at both ends. Immediately I am treated to visions of my daughter going through life in a pirate’s eye-patch. Before I can get there, genuinely by accident, he clobbers her across the forehead with the heavy end. She is incensed.
I want to get rid of the stick. I want to hurl it into the sun. But I don’t. We can’t remove all risk. We just have to manage risk. We come to an unhappy compromise. I break the stick in two and he gets to keep his favorite half. The stick is stronger than I expect. Or I’m weaker. With embarrassing, face reddening effort I finally manage to snap it and in doing so accidentally clobber my daughter on the head. Again.
“It hit my head again!” She sobs in my arms. I practically twist myself inside out trying not to laugh.
It’s a dangerous world. Especially with idiots like me about. But we can’t remove me. We have to manage me.