My son Elijah never heard of Evel Knievel, but the late thrill seeker’s legacy has little to fear from my kid.
The whole nature/nurture debate comes into focus when comparing Elijah with my younger son, Benjamin. Lil’ Benj will take headers off the couch if we don’t stop him first. If there’s a ladder nearby he’ll climb it, a chair within reach he’ll use it just like a ladder.
And then there’s Elijah, who avoids anything remotely dangerous. He gets a goofy look of pride when he jumps from our movie room couch to the floor. Keep in mind our couch is a Euro-style affair that hugs the ground pretty tightly.
“Look, Daddy! I jumped!’
In short, Elijah is just like … me. I’ve come up with a clever phrase to avoid anything out of my physical comfort zone – “I don’t like to be jostled.” And while I love to imagine Elijah reflects his Daddy in many ways – movie watching, cracking jokes or just being kind to others – his wimpy streak is something I wish I could blame on my wife’s side of the family.
Parents usually don’t mind having risk-averse kids. Less bumps, bruises and spontaneous trips to the ER. For me, seeing Elijah’s reticence to hurl himself down a kiddie slide is a painful reminder of my own childhood. I quit Little League baseball, in part, because I was afraid of getting hit by a fastball. I never took up skiing after seeing one too many skiers sporting casts on their legs on TV.
Later, as a teen-ager, I took abuse from a bully when I should have done what my Father suggested – smack ’em with a stick to show him I meant business.
That leaves me in a parenting bind. Do I let Elijah’s natural aversion to such manly pursuits as bouncy house slides go unnoticed? Is this a pattern that will change over time? Or should I consider the Carolla Method? Podcast king Adam Carolla’s six-year-old son has a similar temperament to Elijah’s, and Carolla essentially forced him to go on a series of roller coaster rides recently. The lad cried the first few times, but by the end he was cheering the experience.
I turn to you, fellow parents, for answers. For I am stumped …