Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good parents engage children in dangerous activities

Every parent has their own criteria for successfully raising kids, and my style of parenting includes a healthy dose of self-confidence and exposure to a wide variety of sucessively dangerous challenges.

All children need to learn to conquer their fears. Whether it’s giving a public presentation or shooting a burglar in the head, kids must have the self confidence to aim high.

I taught my kids self-confidence in baby-steps by making them do successively more dangerous tasks:

- I started them both skiing before they were 4 years old
- They both learned to be proficient with a shotgun, rifle and handgun
- At 15, they learned to operate a chain saw
- They must study abroad (to master the fear of not being able to communicate)
- They must become certified scuba divers
- They both must skydive before age 21
- Oh, and lets not forget the ride on a Breezy!

Riding the Rail

About 8 years ago we were on the tarmac at the Scottsdale airport when we ran into Breezy Bob, a really nice fellow who was flying cross country in his “Breezy” a tiny open aircraft that gives you the real sensation of flying.

My son has just completed his pilot lesson, and Breezy Bob was generous enough to offer us a free ride!

A Breezy is pretty-much just a flying rail, and I’ll never forget the look on the kids faces when I strapped them in and told them “If you take-off this seat belt, you will fall out and have 30 seconds to say your prayers before you go splat!” Ha! They were absolutely petrified.

Breezy Bob is a super-nice guy, and he flew “Annabelle” all over the USA to raise money for charity:

It takes Moxie

I want my kids to have Moxie. BTW, Moxie was a popular soda that is no longer sold because it tasted like weasel piss. The Phrase “He has Moxie” originated because Moxie was marketed as a medicine to build one's nerves:

My daughter Jen is a real treat when it comes to learning these life lessons. Jennifer pouts, whines and cries, all in a vain attempt to get me to back-off.

But I’m as stubborn as she is, and I win-out even if it involves a little trickery (I booked and paid for her parachute jump before I told her about it). For example, on her first scuba dive, Jen was so terrified she was literally shaking. As she sat on the edge of the boat I asked “If you don’t make it, can I have your stuff”?

Of course, Jen soon learned to love scuba diving and she is now quite fearless, going farther and deeper than me!

Time for Skydiving

Today we take the next step, the skydiving. She is scared to death, because if something goes wrong, it’s 100% fatal. In other words, it’s the perfect lesson in self-confidence. I figured that if she can muster the courage to jump out of a perfectly good plane, other life challenges will pale by comparison. This was my argument in a nutshell:

After all, it’s just a tandem jump, where she is strapped to another person:

To make it even more fun, I made sure that she talked with Amy, the local paramedic who got to scrape-up a few folks whose parachutes did not open!

But Jen was a great sport, and she sat through the training and got suited-up for her first jump:

My son Andy also went along, and they suited up and made their way to the jump plane:

They jumped at 14,000 feet and did a freefall for about 60 seconds before their chutes opened:

On the ground, they seemed happy, but not anxious to do it again!

Jen’s last remaining challenge is to study abroad, preferably in a challenging country where everything is super strange and foreign.

I suggested that she study in Kazakhstan, where Borat lives (BTW, I can’t wait for the Borat movie next month!):

If you haven’t seen Ali G on HBO, watch this hilarious video. For the Borat movie, watch this.

But Jen did not let me down in her choice of foreign countries. She chose one of the most foreign countries imaginable, one where the language barrier is almost insurmountable.

Next year Jen will study in International Management in Australia. . .