RITE OF PASSAGE: Pinata safety
I am glad parents are concerned for their children’s safety. I grew up in the pre-safety era of America. Probably the greatest safety instruction I received was when I was learning to ride a bike and was told to watch out for the concrete wall at the end of the driveway.
I saw on television that you can now hire safety experts to come into your house and make your house “safe” for you and your children. They will move the bleach from the bottom shelf to the top shelf. They will put safety plugs into the outlets that a child can easily remove, even though it takes me 20 minutes of wrestling with one so Cathy can plug in the vacuum sweeper. They put locks on your drawers so a child can’t open them, and gates at the entry of a stairway so they won’t fall down or fall up depending on which direction they are going. They will even secure your toilet lid so tightly that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse couldn’t budge it in case of an emergency.
These are not bad things. I believe a parent needs to be wise and minimize harm, or at least warn his child about the concrete wall at the bottom of the hill while he is trying to learn to ride a bicycle.
Parents are emphasizing safety more and more by putting safety helmets and padding on their children as they learn to ride a tricycle. A 3 year old these days has more safety equipment on than when I was shooting artillery in the Army. Safety is the operative word for today’s parents. But, these same parents who will dress their children in “bomb squad” clothing allow them to have a pi¤ata at a birthday party.
For those of you who don’t know what a pi¤ata is, it’s a wonderful birthday custom from Mexico. A parent hangs a papier-mƒch‚ figure filled with candy and prizes. Children stand in a circle around the pi¤ata with one child placed in the center and blindfolded. The child with the blindfold is given a stick and turned around several times until they’re nearly dizzy. Then the child is allowed to stagger like a drunk, swinging their stick around with all the force they can muster, hoping to connect with the papier-mƒch‚ figure and splitting it apart, allowing the candy and prizes to fall on the ground for all of the children to enjoy.
Today, many children of all races play this game. But I want to warn you it is a dangerous game. To give a blindfolded, hyperactive child who has just eaten a cup full of sugar-infused icing a stick, and then turn her around into circles and let her go, just doesn’t seem to me the safest of things to do.
Just recently, while I was in Mexico, one of my adult friends invited me to their birthday party and guess what we had to do? Yep, whack the pi¤ata! At least at my age, I have enough sense to run and find cover and realize that getting whacked for a piece of candy isn’t worth it.
Now, I know you are saying, “Walker, what’s your point!?” The point is we decide what is worth taking a risk for! One parent who takes every precaution when their child is learning to learn to ride a bicycle is the same parent who will have their child hold a handle at the end of a long rope and drag him up and down a lake trying to teach him to ski. One set of parents will allow their children to play football, yet think it is too risky to allow them to go on a mission trip.
In fact, you can tell what your family’s value system is by what you are willing take a risk on. The more you value something, the more you will risk obtaining it. If you value nice things, then at the risk of your family, you will work more hours to obtain what your heart desires. Even Jesus in Luke 14:25-34 told us to consider the cost of following Him. He doesn’t pull punches about what it takes to be followers of Christ. We have to risk everything.
As you raise your children, they’ll see what you deem as valuable by how much you will risk. Make sure that following Christ is on top of that list, and then after that, I would put . . . pi¤atas.