When I was 9, I watched on television as daredevil Evel Knievel used his motorcycle to jump 14 Greyhound buses during a show in Cincinnati, Ohio.
For Christmas that year, my parents had purchased me and all of my siblings bicycles. Mine was a motorcycle replica.
You probably see where this is going.
After watching Knievel jump those buses, I hopped on my bike and headed to the creek not far from my house. I found a large, flat rock and set it on a round rock to make a ramp, crossed the road so I could build up plenty of speed and then proceeded to nearly kill myself graveyard dead.
My flat rock ramp evidently wasn’t flat enough, so as soon as my front wheel made contact, the bike was thrown backward and I was tossed over the handlebars into the cold creek.
When I finally made it home and my dad saw my mangled bike, swollen head (there were rocks in the creek) and bloody knees and elbows, he simply asked “Why?”
To which I replied, “I saw Evel Knievel do it.”
My Dad shook his head, picked up his Bible and went to his room — presumably to pray for guidance and patience.
I was reminded of this incident this past week when a reader called and suggested I should write something about “all of these idiots doing stupid stuff just to get themselves seen on videos.”
I assumed the gentleman was talking about the latest TikTok challenges, so I asked him which bothered him the most.
The one where wannabe mountain climbers attempt to traverse a pyramid of stacked milk crates and usually end up maiming themselves, or the one where kids steal water fountains, hand sanitizer, soap dispensers, fire alarms, bathroom stall doors or hot air dryers from bathrooms?
“I don’t know what a TikTok is, but yes. That’s what I’m talking about. One week these stupid kids are trying to kill themselves, and the next week they are vandalizing school property. What the hell is wrong with kids these days?”
I assured him I planned to write something about all of this, but he’s probably not going to like everything I have to say.
In no way will I defend a kid for vandalizing property. Ever. Any kid caught tearing up something his or her hard-working parents paid for with their tax money is a special kind of selfish and needs to be dealt with harshly.
But, before we condemn kids for performing dangerous “look at me” stunts like climbing milk crates or eating a potato chip laced with hot sauce while someone catches the act on video, we need to step back and remember who we’re dealing with here.
We’re dealing with ourselves, just 30 or 40 years later. The main difference is no one had the desire or capability to follow us around 24 hours a day to record every act of stupidity we performed.
As much as we all wish teenagers would be responsible and careful and not put themselves or others in danger, that’s just not realistic. I’m certain some of the stunts I pulled when I was in high school worried years off the lives of my parents — and that’s just the stuff they knew about.
My parents tried, but they were dealing with a male whose brain would not fully develop until he was 25 (my wife might tell you she’s still waiting for that to happen).
So, cut the kids a little slack on the “stupid” comments. Just love them and hope they don’t do anything that can’t be undone.
And for those of you asking where the parents are during all of this craziness, they are probably doing the same thing my Dad did when I hobbled home with bloody elbows and knees, a broken bike and shattered dreams of being a stunt man.
They’re hiding in the bedroom with a Bible praying for guidance and patience.