“Lessons are often learned the hard way!” That’s exactly what my father said to me when I was a young boy. I guess it is just human nature to try and push the boundaries in life and see exactly how much we can get away with. For children, those boundaries are a reminder that helps bring comfort because they are aware of what is to be considered safe and that which is considered to be dangerous. I’ve always said that you could take someone and place them on the balcony of a twenty story building and they wouldn’t be too concerned about their safety. Now try the same scenario but remove the railing from the balcony and suddenly the feeling of safety is gone. Not only gone, but their peace and joy has probably left as well. We need to know where the boundaries are in life. A child on that balcony would probably run up to the railing, look over the side in amazement, and then begin climbing on it while the adults would then become terrified because children obviously don’t know the danger that awaits them if they climb too high.
When my children were younger we lived in a house that had an in-ground swimming pool. Along with a swimming pool comes many of those same boundaries and a well established set of rules to keep everyone safe. Of course you have the standard rules in place like: “No running around the pool,” “No flipping off of the sides of the pool,” “No glass items in or around the pool,” “No diving into the shallow end,” and of course, “No peeing in the pool!” A rule we added was that there shouldn’t be any bikes in or around the pool area. Of course, the reason for this is pretty obvious, but for some it was just another boundary that needed to be challenged.
One summer, I had gone out of town for the week and the weather was perfect for swimming. Everyone had gathered around the pool when my son Zephan decided that to make it more exciting, a bicycle should be involved. Zephan was probably seven years old at the time and a bike is just part of a young boys identity. It’s the symbol of freedom that allows the air to whip through his hair as he glides along effortlessly. Add a little water to the mix and you have the ultimate formula for “coolness.”
Zephan cruised around the pool a few times before others began telling him that he wasn’t supposed to have his bicycle in the pool area. He didn’t care! As long as his “cool” was gaining momentum he was content with his disregard of the rules Cruising along, his siblings began informing him that they were going to tell on him. “I’m going to tell Dad,” became the mantra of all those around the pool and Zephan would continually reply, “I don’t care!”
In the day of technology there is always the ability to gather evidence when someone is breaking the rules. Today was no different. The camera came out and the recording began with the same mantra as before. “I’m telling Dad if you don’t get off the bike and get it away from the pool.” This only empowered Zephan and he sped around even faster. As they informed him that they were recording, Zephan replied again, “I don’t care!” He smiled as he went by and then decided to loop by one last time and wave at the camera. On the video you hear, “I’m recording this and I’m going to tell Dad you are riding your bike around the pool.” Zephan waved at the camera with a huge grin on his face. But then his “cool” ran off the track! He lost control of his bike, his foot slipped off the pedal, and he careened directly into the swimming pool. All caught on video! It was definitely one of those moments that should have been sent directly to the television show, “America’s Home Videos.”
Needless to say, Zephan was mad and stormed inside while everyone else laughed uncontrollably and attempted to regain their composure. But isn’t that how we all are? We push against the rules because we want to spread our own wings. We even blatantly rebel against what we know is right. Many times we want to yell out, “I DON’T CARE!” but in our attempt to maintain our maturity we try not to look too crazy. We should all be thankful that our blatant disobedience isn’t recorded for the world to see. Like Zephan, when “cool” falls off the track or even into a swimming pool, we often get mad and run away. Division and isolation is often created by disobedience. It creates a wedge because we know what is the right thing to do but we want to be our own boss.
Two lessons were learned that day. First, Zephan learned that breaking a rule that is in place to protect you can lead to instant repercussions and secondly, video can haunt you for years. We all laugh about the incident now, but it was a lesson Zephan learned was really in place to keep him and others safe. Be careful if you ever decide to take the “disobedience dive.” It can be a quick trip to the pool and there may not always be water there to break your fall.