Three unrelated things

1. I watched Blade Runner: The Final Cut last night with Cavorter. Or, rather, I watch what I watch 80% of the time — I watch up until the big fight sequence between Roy and Deckerd, and then I fall asleep. I have no idea what it is about that scene, but I fall asleep during it on the vast majority of viewings. Watching it did make me think that, sometime, I want to sit down and freeze frame all the crowd scenes — just to watch the fashion.

The sheer number of images and lines from this film that are iconic is overwhelming. The opening flames jets over Los Angeles, the whole V-K test, the high collars on Rachael’s clothes, J.F. Sebastian’s home . . . Icon after icon spinning by on the screen. Just amazing.

2. I recently got the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). The gist of the book is simple — we learn how to cope with the world by experiencing the world. We learn to handle danger by being taught. Today, as part of school, we did the first project — Lick a 9-Volt Battery.

I was really pleased with the kids. They both did it, though M was very apprehensive. We have drilled them in the dangers of electricity enough that he was worried. And, honestly, it’s hard to hold still and do something you know will hurt. Especially when you don’t know how much it will hurt. But they did it (after I did) and were glad of it.

Now there’s one less thing in the world for them to be afraid of. One less frightening unknown, one less fear lurking in the shadows. Here’s what a shock from a small battery feels like; it’s not that bad. I’m tough enough for this, I know I can handle it.

How many things did you do after you moved out of your parents’ home, that you had no idea how to handle? When did you make your first doctor’s appointment for yourself, by yourself? How do you pick a tax preparer? How do you buy a used car? What does your credit rating mean? How do you get your utilities turned back on? What shoes do you wear to a job interview? Does it matter what kind of job it is? How do you put out a fire on the stove top? How do you pick a safe tattoo artist? How do you know when you’re too drunk to drive? What do you wear to court?

The world is absolutely full of experiences which you’ve never had. Full of activities you haven’t done. For my kids, who are six years old, this is even more true. It’s part of my job to ensure that they experience the world in ways that challenge them, that stretch their abilities and limits, while making sure the stakes are not disastrous in the event of a failure. Yet those stakes need to be real. Licking a 9-volt battery, I can tell you, is not a pleasant sensation. Holding the terminals to your tongue for over a second or so starts to hurt. There’s real stakes there — yet, not damaging ones.

It’s a fine line, figuring out what is an acceptable risk. I look at some of the projects in the book and balk. Yet I did those things. Not when I was six, perhaps, but I had my first pocketknife when I was seven. I climbed on roofs when I was ten. I stuck my hand out the window of a moving car all the time. These were acceptable risks for me. I’m pretty sure that, at some not-too-distant future point, they will be acceptable risks for my kids.

3. We’re off to J’s choir concert in less than an hour. It’s about the Holocaust, songs and poetry and readings from people who survived, and from those who died. I’m fully expecting to bawl my way through it, especially the hopeful parts near the end, about how we can strive to live our lives dedicated to preventing such hatred in our own communities. Feh. I can’t even type about it without tearing up. (Note to self: Bring Kleenex.) Anyway, I need to go get the kids into clean clothes.

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