So tragic, the recent loss of two young lives in one of our local rain-swollen creeks. Yet, when I was a teen, I might have set off on a similar foolhardy rafting adventure had I lived near a set of rapids. And posted warning signs may or may not have dissuaded me. You see, I was in my twenties before I appreciated the fallibility of a raft and the power of moving water. Oh, I knew about the dangerous undertow off ocean beach in San Francisco. Who didn't? But a creek would have been, well, just a creek. Small in comparison. One doesn't have to be a teen-aged guy in order to take stupid risks. I'm living proof.
By the time I was eighteen, I had learned the following three truths the hard way, without the influence of drugs or alcohol.
* Some of the redwood crossbars on a three-story-high clothesline pole may rot after forty years of exposure to the elements.
* A step-ladder hooked to the side of a building for the past twenty years (and sixty feet off the ground) probably is not a good place to stand. Particularly if your mom is looking out the kitchen window and can see you nearly fall to your death.
* When climbing out one second-floor apartment window (with the goal of entering the adjacent apartment via a similar window), pay attention to the width of the ledge between windows.
In fact, I kept winding up in dangerous situations until I was nearly thirty. Then I married a widower who had three sons. An instant family brought instant responsibility. No more risks for me.
So all you moms and dads, keep my story in mind. My status as a straight-A student in high school did not make me "smart" when it came to maintaining my personal safety. As parents, we need to talk the safety talk to our children and walk the safety walk--in addition to offering all the love and understanding we can. Even that might not be enough to avert tragedy. All we can do is the best we can.
Laurel Anne Hill (Author of "Heroes Arise")
Causes Laurel Hill Supports
Winter Nights Shelter and Shelter, Inc.