I have to add a little background on myself here. I’m the oldest of four daughters. No boys. I was afraid to have a little boy because I had no idea what to do with boys. Since we’ve had Hayden, I’ve really come to embrace being the mother to a little boy. After writing the Mothers-of-Boys Manifesto, I’ve really become driven to look for things that are uniquely for boys.
To find something that is uniquely geared for boys, that isn’t dinosaurs or cars or fire trucks, is very appealing. Although my son is way too young for this as yet, I’ve already begun compiling a little mental file of some fun experiments we’ll try one day. (Just last week we were playing with non-Newtonian fluids.) (You know, cornstarch & water.)
To hear about a book that collects all kinds of adventures and “boy crafts” that I can just imagine boys enjoying for the last four decades is really exciting for me. But I have to admit that I was put off by the title: after all, why would I want my son reading a dangerous book? (And to be completely honest, I thought at first that by ‘dangerous’ it meant ‘inappropriate.’)
Do you think the ‘Dangerous’ is in the title for shock value? I mean, I know that the book teaches little boys to make a bow & arrow, but really, I imagine that my boy(s) will be getting into at least that much danger in Cub Scouts.
We try to be low-key parents. Like today at the playground, when I totally didn’t catch Hayden when he rolled over while going down the slide and nearly smacked his face on it. Oh, wait, that was just an accident.
Really, I think that the stereotype of the uptight parent is overplayed in the media. To me and most of the parents I know, “danger” constitutes something that’s going to kill or maim him. Playing in the yard? Fun. Playing in the street? Dangerous. Playing with fire? Dangerous. Playing with fire with one or both of your parents? Fun.
Then again, I do come from a family of all girls. The most dangerous thing I can remember doing is flipping over the handlebars of my bike and hurting my tooth. Maybe I should get this book now so I can direct my son’s dangerous play in a “safe” way. Is that even possible?
If a book has to tell you that something is “dangerous,” which I suppose means dangerous in the irresistable way that draws kids to “dangerous” likes moths to a flame, then is it really dangerous? Honestly, I’m not too worried about the things he’ll read in virtually any book like this. I’m more worried about the games he’ll make up—like when he’ll try to jump over his little (future) brother’s head even though he’s never gone off a ramp before (visions of two bloodied children in the emergency room dancing in my head).
In a way, though, I’m very ready to embrace my son’s love of adventure. The visions of bloodied children in the emergency room are almost like a coping mechanism—as long as it isn’t that bad, it’ll be okay. I want him to embrace that danger (within the larger parameters of safety, such as our fenced-in backyard).
Would I do the same for my daughters? We’ll have to talk after I have one or two, but for now, I don’t really think I’ll have to. Of my sisters, only one even approached the level of danger that little boys are so famous for. I still cringe when I hear others’ boy stories, and I just don’t expect that from my girls. If they’re as adventurous as their brother(s), I wouldn’t discourage them from playing together. (I’d love a Dangerous Book for Kids that they could all use together!)
I do want all my children to be safe, but not so safe that they’re afraid to do anything. I do want them to have a healthy sense of adventure—and I
accept tentatively embrace that there’s some danger that will accompany that. And I want this book.
(note on the title: Ah, good ol’ Steve Irwin. What a sad day.)