Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Dangerous Business of Tag

by Jeffrey Savage

From the ages of three until about six, I broke my head open a lot (which may explain my penchant for writing and reading odd stories.) I fell off a rock wall. I ran into wall corners twice. I also fell off a metal playground train in an Oakland park. Each time I fell I had to go to the hospital and get stitches. Once I bled completely through a bath towel and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

When my wife was six, she was tobogganing down a hill and ran directly into a very large pine tree; breaking her left leg, smashing her face, getting a concussion, and generally enduring quite a bit of pain.

In the fourth grade my friend and I were jumping from the edge of the tanbark box to the pull-up bars. (Remember the ones that were set at three different heights? Girls would often spin around on those bars and inadvertently flash their underwear at the other kids on the playground.) Unfortunately, as he reached for the highest bar, his hands slipped and he fell and broke his arm.

In sixth grade, I was playing tackle football with a couple of friends. As I was tackling one of them he fell wrong and broke his collar bone.

As a junior in high school I was playing football with the opposing ward on Thanksgiving and watched one of my friends shatter four of his front teeth.

I’ve also: experienced the results of searching for golf balls in what turned out to be a huge bush of poison oak, cut my brother’s finger with a pair of electric grass trimmers on a dare, gotten multiple black eyes while playing baseball and football, and fallen out of numberless trees.

I mention all this in response to a recent news story in which a Boston elementary school has outlawed tag because they feel it is too dangerous for children. That’s right, tag! Now I understand that kids getting injured on school property is a drag and can cost taxpayers money. But for pity sake, kids are going to get hurt at recess. It is in their very natures to take chances and do stupid things.

But may I suggest that while outlawing guns, chainsaws, and those crazy metal merry-go-round things that send kids flying, are probably a good idea, you can’t protect kids from every physical activity. Nor would you want to. That’s part of growing up. It’s a part of learning. Kids will be kids. And frankly I think kids are a lot more endangered by becoming overweight than by a game of tag. I say let the kids run.

And while I’m on the topic, I’ll see if I can tick a few people off by saying I don’t think you should protect your kids from the following either:

Teachers who disagree with what you believe.
Books with ideas or topics that might be challenging.
Friends of different faiths, races, or political persuasions.
Large words.
Foods you don’t like.
Making decisions that are not always the best for them. (I liked how Sister Hinckley allowed her oldest daughter to skip church one Sunday but made her cook dinner. I think it allowed her daughter to understand the consequences of skipping church. Not that she had to cook dinner but that she missed out on the spiritual messages the rest of the family received.)
The consequences of their own actions.
Trying things you know they will not be good at.
Cartoons that are really stupid.
Having to listen to their grandparents' stories for the twentieth time.
Things that might make them sad or angry. (See above)
Losing at games.
Battles they can’t win.
Things they won’t finish.
Instrument lessons they will quit.
Anything that takes them out of their comfort zone.
And the truth.


At 10/24/2006 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it to unconscionable that the books and other works that children are assigned to read are predominately tragic. All too often, even the books that start out positively end in sadness. Although there is plenty of sadness in the world, and we all need to learn to face it in our own time, the main lesson that my son got out of reading books in school was that books were a bad experience. Now that he is an adult, you will never catch him reading a book. I have often wondered if the outcome would have been better for my son and some of his peers if their teachers had delayed the focus on challenging topics and had concentrated instead on sharing their love of reading.

After my son read Julie of the Wolves in school, years ago, this is the alternate ending that he wrote:

They had been traveling for weeks, looking for a good home which they could be satisfied living in. The traveling had been rough in the cold snow, but it was not too bad. They would build a fire every night, and Miyax would sing to the wolves while the flames blazed.

Amaroq, wolf, my friend,
You are my adopted father.
My feet shall run because of you.
My heart shall beat because of you.
And I shall love because of you.

One night she came upon a bird who was shivering on a tree because he had not flown south with the other birds. Miyax slipped her fingers under the bird and put him by the fire and gave him some meat, which he ate appreciatively. She fed him and kept him warm, and he got better. He would travel with them and make funny noises in her parka. Kapu had come to appreciate the new member of the pack and loved to play with him. Every once in a while she would sing this song:

Tornait, tornait,
Spirit of the bird;
Fly into my body
And bring me
The power of the sun.

Miyax carried Tornait in her parka as she walked with Amaroq and the rest of the wolves, looking for a place to settle. Every few hours she would stop to feed him while the wolves ate. They had been following the long river for a long time and had decided that they would head towards the Kuskokwin Mountains. That night they slept inside a huge hollow tree which seemed to have shelves that Miyax could put her belongings in. There was even a perch that stuck up from the bottom of the cave, which Tornait slept on in front of a big fire where all the wolves liked to dance around. They ate well that night from a caribou which the wolves had brought down in front of the tree.

The next day, they traveled many miles before resting again. The snow was beginning to thaw as the sun grew hotter. Tornait would swoop down and dive for fish. Kapu came to Miyax with a bone in his mouth, full of play. Tornait grabbed the bone from him and gave it to Miyax, who was being chased by the barking Kapu. Then he sprang onto her and stole his bone and bared his teeth so that Miyax would lay down. Jello changed his ways and became a wolf who Amaroq approved of very much. He was now very kind and would never steal anything again. Every day they seemed to be traveling to a higher elevation. Miyax would howl with the wolves at night.

One evening they came upon a big crevice in the rocks which opened into a huge room which they would call home. Miyax built a place in the middle of the room for their fires, and a nice perch on the wall with a place for food and water for Tornait. The wolves had cozy rabbit skins for their beds, and Miyax had her warm sleeping skin. She even built a nice coat for Tornait to wear when it got cold. Every night, they would howl to the moon with Tornait cheeping in.

At 10/24/2006 3:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to say, "I find it to be unconscionable," but something happened to the word "be" on the way from my brain to my fingers.

At 10/24/2006 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good column -- makes you wonder just how much kids need to be protected.

By the way, Jeff, are you going to have another writing contest on your site this November?

Melanie Goldmund

At 10/24/2006 11:40 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

I like that ending much better, Anon. The book that did wonders for a lot of the kids the didn't read in my generation was "The Outsiders." It was both sad and uplifting.


I am definitely having both another writing contest and another Holiday mystery solving contest. They were a ball last year.

At 10/24/2006 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




Post a Comment

<< Home