“Don’t Play with That, You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

I cannot tell you how many times I heard this phrase as a kid. Back in the day, before kids had safety rules, baby gates, seat belts and toy recalls, we would play with whatever we could find. Store bought toys were a luxury that we could not afford. Not to mention the fact that there was not a whole lot of toys to choose from back then.

One of my favorite toys was the bow and arrow set. The arrows had real steel tips and they could penetrate tree bark.

We would set out, with our bows and arrows on our backs, looking for younger kids that were gullible enough to let us shoot arrows at their heads. We would usually bribe them with candy or ice cream.

We would convince the younger kid into standing up against a tree and put an apple on their head. We showed them the “toy arrows” so they could see that the arrows were “not dangerous.” Hog wash.

Then, each of us would take turns shooting the arrows in order to pierce the apple on their head! Once, I did see a kid get the apple with the arrow and realized the arrow did puncture the apple. Good thing we were bad shots and usually did not even get close to the tree or the kid. I can’t imagine what would have happened if we hit the kid!

Then there were the BB guns and pellet guns! We would slap a target on anything and everyone we could find. Aim with these guns was fair at best. We always preferred moving targets. My friends’ little brothers and sisters fit the bill. We had no idea the damage we could have done. Fortunately, our aim was worse with these guns over the arrows.

Remember cap guns? We could not afford the guns, so we would just buy the red strips that were for the gun and then popped them. We would line up at the curb cut and find a rock to pop the caps.

Within minutes, there was a cloud of smoke and sulfur rising through the air and straight across our faces! You would hear others yelling, “ouch”, “that’s smarts” or the ever popular, “I think I burned a hole in my arm.”

Every time we got caught by an adult, you would hear this phrase “you’re going to shoot an eye out.” The adult would also comment somewhere in the lecture about not using these toys or not using younger kids as targets. Whatever.

We usually just stood there until the lecture was over, waited for the adult to leave and start up with the same games again.

I am not saying we need to bring these toys back; however, how are kids going to learn to recognize danger if they never experience it? TV, movies and video games are not real life. My kid thinks when you die in a video game and hit reset that this applies to human life.

I am guessing almost everyone was told to stay away from the stove when you were a kid, right? How many of you snuck up and touched a hot stove when you were young? I did more than once, as I am noted to be a slow learner. After a few times, I learned not to do this. However, I would play with the “bubble blister” from the burn for days!

Let me repeat, I am not saying give kids weapons in order to learn what is dangerous. I am asking the question to you about how do we teach our kids about danger?

Talking with some kids helps. However, as evidenced by my own problem with learning about hot stoves, I am not sure the proper way to educate my “chitlin” on how to recognize danger.

How many of you have a home security system? Do you really think this system keeps intruders away? How many times have you heard a car alarm go off and do absolutely nothing about it? This breeds a false sense of security.

As usual, I am asking a question that I have no good answer to give to you. Answers are not my forte.

I may not always recognize danger. However, as the great Gary Larson has illustrated in the above cartoon, walking into a dark cave is on the top of the list for recognizing danger.

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