Monday, January 07, 2008

Dangerous Things We Should Let Children Do

Kids these days do not often realise what they are missing. Yes, they've got their computers and high-tech toys. However, they're often overly protected. Watching this video, it reminded me of so many fun things that I did while I was a child, most of which were done without my parents knowledge! I doubt that they would've let me do those things, even during those days, when warnings weren't everywhere.

I used to love playing with fire. During the mid-autumn festival, when other kids played with lanterns, I'd play with nothing but the candles (with dry leaves and newspaper). This was when I first learned that water doesn't necessarily put out fires. It can actually help it to burn bigger and brighter.

During Chinese New Year, I'd take it a step further and extract the powder from inside fire crackers, and light them directly. I once lit up a couple of boxes of fire crackers worth of powder. The resultant flash left me blind for many minutes. This taught me about combustion and oxidisation (powder left open for a while, will not light).

Many years later, I used my knowledge to light up our school camp fire, using electricity (with match stick primer and petrol accelerator).

I used to own several multi-purpose penknives. They had a blade, screwdriver, cork screw, scissors and a bunch of other built in tools. I used it to do lots of things. I carried it everywhere with me, even to school (nobody checks your pockets when you're a prefect!). Today, this would be almost an impossibility. I definitely learned how not to handle a knife and I still have the necessary stitches to prove it.

I never did throw a spear before, though I did throw a great many things. I loved making and playing with paper planes. Up till today, I can still fold several different paper plane designs. I'd often make extra cuts and folds to the wing and tail, in order to make the plane go further, last longer, or do stunts. This taught me about flight and control surfaces. When I was little, I used to dream of being an aeronautical engineer.

Oh, I was very good at this. My whole family will attest to this. I used to be called 'The Destroyer' when I was little. I took apart anything that I could lay my hands on (not necessarily limited to old/damaged stuff). My toys rarely lasted more than two weeks before I'd take them apart, often to figure out how it works inside. On several attempts, I had even managed to combine parts from different toys into a new hybrid toy (often Frankenstein-ish, held together with rubber bands and tape). This taught me a lot about how things worked and how to build stuff, which still plays a major role in my life today.

I also took my curiousity to the next level, by learning about formless things too, like electricity. But, that's the subject of a much longer post.

I can remember my dad taking me out driving, when I was very little. I couldn't possibly reach the pedals, but I could handle the steering wheel. It was a wonderful experience, at that time. Thinking about it still puts a smile to my face. I'm not sure how much it helped me, but I didn't have any problems learning to drive later. In fact, my driving instructor did not believe that I had never driven before, during my very first lesson (of 3, and I passed without kopi).

Anyway, watch the video. It's cool.

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