Empathy

“Jim Class” is a feature that airs within The HomeFix Show. Written by original charter show listener Jim Forrer from Caldwell Idaho, Jim shares his observations, life experiences  and lessons learned in life. Joe Prin reads these at various times in most of the HomeFix Shows. Here is the original written text.

Being an older, easy mark grandpa, does not negate my empathy for young children. I know of the things that small ones enjoy and find thrilling and adventurous.

In the days of yore, while trekking across the prairie, young ones liked riding up front alongside dad while he was driving the team of horses. Sometimes they would climb upon the back of the old milk cow tethered behind the Conestoga wagon. Kids would always find something to do that was fun and perhaps a little dangerous. Children have always wanted to see what was going on and be involved with whatever the activity was. Many times you would see a young one holding on for dear life on top of a fully loaded hay wagon. Riding that wagon out of the field was a great thrill and adventure that they just had to try. When fields were being plowed with a tractor, you could always find a young child was riding on the back hanging on with pure delight and laughter.

My father had trucks as part of and for his business. As a young boy, dad would let me ride along while he made his deliveries. The old Mack truck had only the drivers seat so I would upend a crate to sit on. That way I could see out through the windshield and view down the road towards the next great adventure that surely was to pop its’ head. There was always a new adventure just around the next corner. And, with every corner turned, that old crate would slip and slide on the steel floor. With every stop dad made the crate would tip forward making like a carnival ride. One of the other trucks was a cab-over GMC Delivery van. It too had only a drivers seat, so I would sit on the engine cowling.

Traveling in the family sedan was another adventure happening. I would most times get car sick when riding in the back seat. I would convince mom and dad that I had to ride up front. Going to church, the grocery store or just out for a short trip, you would find me hanging out the window playing airplane with my hand in the slip stream. Great fun!

Not so much fun today for young ones. We tie them down in a straight jacket then throw them in the back seat. With little ones, we even make them ride backwards. So much for fun. It would not surprise me that one of these days, when children are unruly, we will place them in a closet for a time out.

Rules, regulations, laws and common practices may be the safest way to protect our children, but what do they lose in the process? Over regulation takes away experimentation and examination of possibilities. Sure,  kids do some dumb things, but through making mistakes they learn a lot of life’s lessons, and the thrill of knowledge acquired on their own.  I, as a grandparent, want to protect all of the young ones, but let us not go overboard.