Noah Cyrus – Make Me (Cry) ft. Labrinth

Make Me Cry  by Noah Cyrus ft. Labrinth, is a song written about how it feels to be in a pathological relationship.

“I’ve never needed you like I do right now.

I’ve never hated you like I do right now”

This is the epitome of being with someone because you are addicted to drama. The passion, the conflict, the make-up sex all become a part of the dynamic. It is intense and overwhelming and can destroy your life.

Once you have removed yourself, you realize the pre-occupation with the pathology in the relationship has had an impact on your work, your hobbies, your relationships and quite likely your health.

I love the way the song ends. She sings, “all you ever do is make me…” Automatically, my brain corrected it to finish with the word, “cry”. But the truth is, these relationships change who you are. So, it is more accurate for her to say, “all you ever do is make me…”.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

http://www.julieharrison.ca/family/personal-style-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-family/http://www.julieharrison.ca/family/personal-style-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-family/

Once again, my sister Vicki and I found ourselves without food in the house. The difference this time was that we knew where there was food. My parents owned a tent-trailer. The shell of the trailer was made up of metal. When open, the top of the shell became the roof. It was held up by four folding poles that could be locked into a vertical position. When the roof was up, the width of the tent trailer could be expanded by opening two tent pieces that housed a bed on either side of the body of the tent trailer.

My parents would take us camping at a beautiful campsite, across the river, in the US. Originally we had a large tent and later we got this new tent trailer that seemed so much more modern and convenient. Once my parents had set up camp, my sister and I would be left at the site while our parents travelled back and forth across the international bridge to work and whatever else they felt like doing. I have very little memory of them being at these campsites because they would often leave and not come back until the evening.

At the beginning of each camping trip, we would drive to a grocery store near the campsite and buy all of the food that we needed. I remember Mogen David wine, frozen hash browns, eggs, milk, bacon and little individual servings of cereal housed in their own boxes. These boxes could be opened at the top along perforations and be used as bowls, but I digress.

We would buy so much food that it would overwhelm the small fridge in the trailer, but there would be good eating for a few days. Now we were home and there was no food in the house.

I know my mother was out drinking because I managed to get her on the phone. She explained that she was not coming home soon. Vicki and I both knew that there was food still left in the refrigerator of the tent trailer, but it was now closed and in the yard. We had witnessed the mechanics of how the lid of the trailer was raised and thought that it was worthwhile to try to open it ourselves.

The problem was that we were simply not strong enough to lift the top of the shell by ourselves. Driven by determination and hunger, we both did our best to push the top up. We discussed the fact that it did not have to go all of the way up for us to get into the fridge and get some food out. So we both used all of our strength to lift the lid.

Problem was, we got it up enough to unfold the poles and then our strength ran out. The lid came down and Vicki’s hand was caught in the fold of the poles. She screamed and I was worried that the weight would sever her fingers from her hand. I panicked and used all of my strength to re-lift the top. Vicki removed her hand and we both fell to the ground crying. It wasn’t worth risking another try.

I don’t remember how severely my sister’s hand was hurt. I know that she did not lose any fingers for sure. The trouble was, even though her hand was going to heal eventually, we still had been unable to get to the food and there was no telling when a parent would be home.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

IMG_3471It’s just a fragment of a memory, out of context, out of time, but a dramatic one none-the-less. My mother is in her room, on her bed, writhing in agony. She is wailing in pain and sobbing. My father is pacing back and forth in the livingroom, lost, unsure of what to do.

I am in the kitchen immobile. I can’t move. I am frightened and worried. My mother is in distress. There is nothing that I can do. My sister is home. I know that, but I don’t know where she is.

My father says, “We should take you to the doctor’s”.

My mother replies, sobbing, “Dr. Dean can’t see me until….” I don’t remember how far away the appointment was, but it is strange at this point in my life to remember my mother saying that.

If she had in fact been in as much pain and discomfort as she appeared to be, why was she refusing to see a doctor? Why did she not go into the emergency room of the hospital? Heaven knows that we had been there on many occasions.

I blurted out, “Dr. Dean will be dead by then.” I’m not sure why I said this. Perhaps, it was in recognition of how ridiculous her statement was in the midst of all of this drama. Perhaps I didn’t want the only solution, the only end to this to be so far in the future. All I know for sure is that I felt helpless, lost, worried and panicked.

That’s it.

I don’t remember any more. I don’t remember the outcome, other than the fact that Dr. Dean did die before my mother got in to see him. He was rather old at the time.

Now, in hindsight, I realize that this was probably just one more manipulation. My mother used illness as a way of making herself the centre of everyone’s attention. She was sick throughout my entire life. In this particular instance, the likely reason that she did not want to go into the emergency room was that there was nothing wrong and they would be able to tell. Her family could not. We were focusing all of our energy on her and that is the way she liked it.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Leaving-page-001

In this book, Martha Beck examines the truly pathologic relationship she had with her parents and how she managed to get out from under it.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

What if We Chose to Be Here?

It seemed like a simple question, but the more I pondered it the more I recognized it was rewriting how I told my story. For years, I’ve said, “I think I chose to be here” and in a recent conversation with a friend, I turned it around and said, “What if we all chose to be here?”

img_0071

It rearranges everything we’ve been focusing on. A few things fall from this premise and it is interesting to explore them, knowing full well the premise may be faulty. So, first, the most obvious is that if we “chose” we must have existed. Which, pretty much means we must exist after this body dies because we had to come from somewhere and we just go back. This is going back to a place from where we could chose what we want to experience.

There are many religions that have spoke to the range of possibilities, from returning here in a better or worse situation; living forever in a new reality that is either good or bad; or simply not existing after we are here. Truth is, no one knows for sure, but lets just stick with the possibility that we chose to be here for a while.

_____________

 

Believing we exist after we die,

has the power to eliminate all of the fear

of our own death.

_____________

 

When we no longer exist here, if we knew we existed somewhere else, it would make death a whole lot less frightening. Not necessarily for those we leave behind who suffer the loss of our presence and the emotional impact of losing someone you love, but for us, ourselves.

The idea that we may actually be able to choose to do this again, or that we might choose another set of parameters gives this inevitability known as death a whole new interpretation. It becomes more of a transition, a change in our reality, a new opportunity to chose to experience another life in an incalculable number of paradigms of reality.

You being you, even before you had the body you are in now, decided to experience life here. It allows us to refocus on the idea we wanted to come here and perhaps we should be exploring that instead of just getting by in a day. Why did you chose to be here? What did you want to experience, do, see, be involved in? You bought the ticket, and decided to go for the ride. What were you hoping you would get a chance to do? Trying to remember who you are and what your motivation was is a good place to start.

Even if this premise is wrong, and the only way to test it is to die, it has the power to allow us to think about life differently. We can look around with new eyes and see the world in a different way. A way that emphasizes why we would want to be here, what we enjoy and how we want to live.

Consider it for a moment. Is it possible you chose to be here? Perhaps, not in the exact situation you are in, but using a card game as an analogy, you decided to play cards and now you are faced with the hand you were dealt. How would you live differently if you no longer were preoccupied with prolonging your life, avoiding death and instead focused on the good things you enjoy around you?

It becomes possible to let go of the fear. We know we are going to die and if that is not a bad thing, we can now focus on living the most satisfying life we can imagine.

Are you Avoiding your Feelings?

IMG_0007Do you find yourself shopping when you don’t need anything and spending more money than you have? Do you eat when you are not hungry and past the point of being full? Do you need a drink in order to face your day, or perhaps several? People do many things to distract themselves from their feelings. If you do anything habitually, that you know you probably shouldn’t be doing as much as you do, you may be trying to avoid your emotions.

Emotions can be uncomfortable things. Most people enjoy the good feelings of love, happiness and enjoyment–but not all. The emotions that most often cause us to reach for the icecream or the credit card are usually the negative ones like anger, fear and hate. These are uncomfortable feelings. When we are young, emotions can be overwhelming and painful and we all learn ways to avoid feeling them. As adults, these patterns can take on a life of their own and can result in behaviours that are bad for us.

Unfortunately, emotions do not go away until they are experienced. When we routinely push emotions down, two things can happen. They can build up and then erupt, when they get the opportunity, or they can result in physical discomfort or illness.

If you find that you start crying for little or no reason, you erupt in anger at the slightest provocation, you become frightened or burst out laughing for no apparent reason, you may just be experiencing suppressed emotions that are bubbling up to the surface.

Depression; lack of interest in things that you used to enjoy; feeling like you are just going through the motions–can all be symptoms of repressed feelings. If we close the door on one emotion, it is very difficult to let other emotions in.

Denollet (2009) showed that unexpressed anger increased the risk of heart attack. Miyamoto (2011) demonstrated that the Japanese freedom to express negative emotions is better for your overall health than the North American societal pressure to only express positive emotions. In general, it has been demonstrated that expressing emotions, instead of repressing them, is better for your overall well being (Barber, 2011). There is no question that the happier you are the healthier you are.

Those of us that avoid rather than feel our emotions may be so programmed to reach for a drink or some other diversion that we no longer recognize that we are running away from a feeling. If you have a habit that you often turn to, especially one that you feel is excessive or not good for your overall well being, you need to become aware of it. When the urge strikes, stop for a moment.

Before you indulge in your diversion, be still. Take a moment to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Take note of where there is sensation in your body. Describe the sensation. Try to picture it. Start at your toes and pay attention to each part of your body up to your head. Is there any vibration, heat, tension, pain, discomfort, numbness or any other sensation? Can you feel your entire body or are there parts that you can no longer feel? Sit with this for a while and pay attention.

This exercise gets you out of your mind and the thoughts that you may try to tell yourself about why you should just go shopping. It does not focus on trying to identify the emotion that you are feeling, just the way that you experience the emotion as a physical sensation in your body.

The next step is to think backward from the moment that you went to your favourite vice until you become aware of what happened that caused you to reach for your diversion. The habit of not feeling emotions right away can become so refined that it may have even been something that happened a day or two ago, or longer. Continue to retrace your memory until you start to recognize the physical sensation in your body again. When remembering “feels” the same way you felt when you started the exercise you have identified the cause of the feeling.

Remember the event. Think about what you thought at the time and try to get in touch with what you were feeling. Do not censor yourself. Some emotions are considered unacceptable in our society and you might be a master of telling yourself what you should be feeling and how you should be responding. Denial of your own emotions is not good for you. You can feel anger without acting on it. You can feel hate, pain and fear without having it change how you behave. Forcing yourself not to feel these emotions causes them to be stored.

By recognizing what you were feeling at the time and allowing yourself to feel it, you can let the emotions move through you. Once an emotion is expressed, it is released from the body. The discomfort that you feel trying to avoid an emotion can last much much longer than the emotion itself if you allow yourself to just feel it directly.

At this point you may find that you choose to indulge in your habit anyhow. The advantage of this exercise is that you become more and more aware of why you are distracting yourself. Also, if you allow yourself to feel your emotions, you may find that your need to avoid them decreases over time.

Co-dependency and Narcissism

IMG_5666Bill was very nervous. He was walking very carefully, taking each step with care, making sure his foot was planted securely before taking the next. Great thought was put into how to proceed. He could be described as extremely circumspect.

At this point, you may begin to form an image in your mind about the remainder of his life. It is easy to draw conclusions about Bill. We can picture him overthinking every decision, developing self doubt, living an overly cautious life. If he is this circumspect about walking, how difficult is it for him to make decisions, lead a normal life or manage at all?

I think that there may be a parallel between how we feel about Bill and the relationship between narcissists and co-dependency. Let me explain. According to Wikipedia the “commonly cited symptoms of codependency are:[1]

• intense and unstable interpersonal relationships,
• inability to tolerate being alone, accompanied by frantic efforts to avoid being alone,
• chronic feelings of boredom and emptiness,
• subordinating one’s own needs to those of the person with whom one is involved,
• overwhelming desire for acceptance and affection,
• external referencing,
• dishonesty and denial, and
• low self-worth.”

In terms that sound more familiar, a co-dependent person is someone who is in a bad relationship. They are unwilling or unable to leave because they fear being alone. Generally they are unhappy and look to others to others for love and affection, often putting the needs of their partner above their own.

I think that Bill would agree that he is nervous and overly careful. Now, if I told you that Bill was walking along a narrow ledge several stories up the side of a mountain, would you jump to the same conclusions about how the rest of his life might be?

When dealing with issues surrounding narcissism, the concept of co-dependency comes up over and over again. Co-dependency is a label that is used to describe someone in a bad relationship. Any relationship with a narcissist is a bad relationship. The same behaviours are not criticized if you are in a good relationship. This is where it all falls apart for me.

Your lover gets a huge promotion, but has to move to New York to accept the job. If you decide to go with them even when moving means that you have to leave your family and your job, it could be said that you are “subordinating your own needs to those of the person with whom you are involved.” None the less, this is not considered a pathologic decision because as long as the relationship is “good” then it is not considered co-depedency.

Putting another’s needs above your own is so ingrained in our society air planes remind people to put their own oxygen mask on first. This trait is certainly not restricted to people who are co-dependent.

I can’t say for sure if Bill has low self worth, but anyone that would risk being on a ledge this far from the ground could be considered reckless and at the very least a thrill seeker. What can be stated explicitly is that he is much less likely to walk this slow and carefully when he is no longer on a ledge. I suspect the same can be said for many people who leave “co-dependent” relationships.

Certainly, there are individuals that float from one bad relationship to another, with an “overwhelming desire for acceptance and affection.” But we need to be careful here. Most people have a need for affection and love. Being ostracized from society has been a form of social punishment for a very long time. It only works because people need to be with other people. It is only “pathologic” if you are not capable of choosing good people to be around.

The inability to tolerate being alone is almost universal, especially when it means alone all of the time. Solitary confinement is considered an extreme form of punishment and is associated with self-injury and attempted suicide. So, for all intents and purposes we all have this “symptom” of co-dependency to some degree.

External referencing” means always checking outside of oneself before making a decision. Bill certainly is checking outside of himself and being very careful and we know why. A fall could cause serious harm if not death. The same could be said for being in a relationship with a narcissist that will attack if they feel they are losing control. A verbal assault is every little bit as important as a physical assault. Being insulted, demeaned, yelled at, shamed and belittled can be seriously painful.

Trying to avoid this pain does not mean that there is something wrong with you. Also, there is no way to know if you would continue to put other’s needs ahead of your own if you were not trying to protect yourself from an attack.

If a spouse went out and bought a car without first checking with the other person it would be seen as inappropriate. This form of “external referencing” is seen as normal and expected. Why would anyone risk having their partner explode when it is easier to ask before making a decision?

The inability to end a bad relationship is not restricted to people who are co-dependent. Everyone I know can site multiple examples of people that are in bad relationships they are reluctant or unable to end. Does that mean that most of us are co-dependent?

Couldn’t many peoples’ experience with on-line dating be characterized as an “inability to tolerate being alone, accompanied by frantic efforts to avoid being alone?” How else would you describe checking on-line frequently to see if anyone has viewed your profile? How about a willingness to meet someone, you don’t know, for coffee?

Another problem I have with the term is that it “blames the victim”. Learning how to minimize the trauma and drama of a relationship does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with you. Many of the items on the list can be coping mechanisms that gradually develop over the relationship. This does not mean that you are broken, it means that you have learned how to deal with a relationship that you are in that is not good for you.

Repeatedly finding yourself in bad relationships can be explained in an entirely different way. You may have never experienced a good relationship and you do not know how to tell the difference because you’ve never seen it. Again, this does not necessarily mean that you have “low self esteem” it may just mean that to you, this is what a relationship looks like. That perception can be changed.

Each of the examples that “define” co-dependency have the potential to disappear or become acceptable once the bad relationship has ended. Especially, “intense and unstable interpersonal relationships!

I’m not suggesting there are no people out there who fit the mold of co-dependency. I’m sure some exist. But like Bill, they may have adapted to their surroundings. If Bill makes it safely off of the cliff he will be a hero. If he falls to his death he will be seen as a fool. If you are showing the signs of co-dependency you may need to remove yourself from the relationship until you learn what a healthy relationship looks like. Then, and only then, can it be determined if in fact you are co-dependent.

The Narcissist Survival Guide is now available

Top 10 Signs You are Dating a Narcissist

Three and a Half Hours

IMG_0591Three and a half hours to go. Originally, it seemed like it was a long way away. I would never had considered it if I hadn’t had seven weeks to prepare. After the date got changed, I had another two weeks — plenty of time. Then, life happened.

August is deceiving. It feels like the freedom, the extra time and the sunlight will last forever, but September always follows with its demanding schedule, new tempo and decreasing daylight. Add in some travel, a couple of visitors and a bout of intestinal upset and suddenly nine weeks hardly seems long enough.

Will I be able to do 5k becomes the question? I was never a runner. An athlete yes, but not a runner. Even in softball, I was mainly successful because I could hit the ball out of the park, eliminating the need to run quickly around the bases and, of course, the pitcher does not need to run at all.

My main sport was swimming, a totally different body dynamic. I still enjoy doing laps until I am completely lost in the rhythm, the splash of the water, the push off of the wall and the rush of the water over my body. It is hypnotic. But, running is another matter.

My earliest memories were of running around the block when I was quite small, less than eight years of age. We lived on one of those horseshoe shaped crescents that were built by the thousands in the 1940’s and 1950’s. So, a trip around the block meant that you were really close to home for most of it. I did not enjoy it but my swimming coach thought that it was a good idea. I don’t remember doing it very much.

I later ran because I thought that it would help my figure, but the sheer torture of running was simply not worth it. There had to be a better way. I tried to run in highschool and everyday when I was about to go and get changed into clothing that I could run home in, a student would pull the fire alarm and I would have to exit the school. This went on day after day until they finally caught the guy and I stopped planning to run home. It makes me wonder if that isn’t one of those synchronicities that don’t make sense at the time.

In university, I tried to run with one of my boyfriends, but he was a full six inches taller than I was, highly competitive, and I was on a calorie-restricted diet at the same time. That was a disaster waiting to happen. When I almost passed out during a run, I thought that it would be safer to call it quits.

Now here I am, post children. I have been walking extensively for a year and a half and just started to add running into the mix. As I said, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but now with the clock ticking, all I can say is, “Wish me luck!”

The Bacon Conundrum

http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/15/scientists-in-oregon-discover-bacon-flavored-seawe/
http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/15/scientists-in-oregon-discover-bacon-flavored-seawe/

Are we the first generation to actually think we will beat death? Do we believe that if we do everything possible to keep ourselves alive as long as we can we’ll be around when the cure for death is discovered and live forever?

This smacks into reality when we consider whether or not we would want to be doing, what we are doing now, for eternity. If this day-to-day existence is the only one we will ever be able to experience, is it worth prolonging? Q examines this question on Star Trek repeatedly. What is there to do once you’ve done everything? In one episode, a Q choses to die just to end the boredom of living forever and being omniscient.

But I digress, regulations with the sole function of increasing your life span are very much in our awareness at the moment, because of the bacon conundrum. It was one thing when it was just smoking. All of the ex-smokers hated anyone smoking and all of the helicopter parents felt the risk of a whiff of smoke, when entering a building, could doom their babies to poor health and artificial voice boxes. But now, we are talking about ham at Sunday dinner, pepperoni pizza and bacon and eggs. All but the strictest vegetarians among us partake.

However, if regulations are justified to limit the habits of smokers, to keep them from harm, similar laws will need to be applied to smoked meat products. Age limits on purchases and warnings with graphic photographs, for instance. Possibly restaurants that serve these implicated foods will require identification before entrance, if public consumption is allowed at all.

Will you have to show ID to purchase a pepperoni pizza? Does this mean that we’ll now be seeing colonoscopy photos of cancers on packages? Perhaps post surgery depictions of abdomens when the guts needed to be removed. Same level of risk, same requirement for equal legislation.

Or could we possibly, look at the absurdity of the above and recognize that both bacon and smoking have no redeeming qualities other than enjoyment? And before someone jumps up and says, “second hand smoke”, second hand smoke is NOT as dangerous as bacon so the rules can apply to bacon without suggesting that second hand smoke needs to be treated the same way. In other words, the “risk” presented from second hand smoke is less than the risk from the consumption of cured meat products.

Could we all come to grips with the fact that we are all going to die? Yes, even you. There is more to life than avoiding death. Enjoyment of bacon, for example. Living causes death. Regardless of what you do, you are going to die. Get over it.

For all of the “harm” smoking was doing, it gave people a break in their days. People congregated for a drink and that often included a smoke as well. People went outside purposefully to smoke creating an opportunity to get up and go out. It was a very social activity. Now, you can’t even smoke alone in parks. But you can eat bacon.

No one has ever bothered to explain why, despite the fact that they smoke and eat processed meats, both Spain and France have longer life expectancies than we do. True story. So what’s up with that? Could it be that consuming these products is not the defining issue about how long we live?

If regulations are there to enhance our health, shouldn’t enjoyment of life and being social factor into the equation? Being social has been shown to enhance your life expectancy beyond any other single factor. Smoking was one of the things that people did when they were together. Now, the bingo halls, legions and bowling alleys are almost all gone. Did we enhance the life expectancy of this group of smokers by socially isolating them?

It could be argued that bacon has less value in that it is not generally done in groups. It is less familiar to hear someone say, “lets go out and eat bacon together. ” or ” meet me for some smoked pork belly” but I digress. There is no question that it is delicious. But leniency on the rules cannot be argued because it brings people together. Smoking did.

Not surprisingly, our casinos have never been big hits. If you are going to fly to a city to go to a casino, you are not going to fly here. Many other casinos allow you to smoke and drink. There is a recognition that not everything has to be about prolonging life. Many cultures actually relax and enjoy themselves without obsessing about all of the ‘evil’ out to kill us.

But, health considerations, specifically what you consume, (not how you live) have trumped all others. Lung cancer victims, especially those that have never smoked, are treated as pariahs. Everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer so if you have it you are guilty of indulging in a socially unacceptable activity no one shows you mercy. Truth is, many of them have never smoked. Turns out smoking is not the ONLY cause of lung cancer. Go figure!

Increasingly, in light of our war on smokers, we will have to face the reality that many of our friends and relatives, who have never smoked, will die anyway, often of what used to be referred to as natural causes. Treating all death as a pathology that could have been prevented allows us to believe that we are the generation that will beat this and live forever, if we just make enough laws about how people can behave. Perhaps we should be rethinking all of this.

Polite Conversation

IMG_0556The conversation came to an abrupt halt. We had been driving for a couple of hours and topics and interests had overlapped and looped around. I have been on road trips with this woman before and it was always easy to find something to discuss.

A new passenger had now been with us for about fifteen minutes. I did not know her. She was quiet and had not contributed much to the conversation, so far, it soon became clear that several topics were off limits.

This was unfortunate. I love gabbing and pointing out scenery. Now there did not seem to be a common subject outside of our work. I don’t like discussing work when it wasn’t necessary, so I had become quiet as well.

It is one thing to recognize that we are all different and that is OK. It is something totally different to find things to talk about. I go by the axiom that the discussion does not really begin until the point of disagreement, but not everyone feels this way. It had become clear that with this third person in the car, I was the ONLY one that still felt that way. Anyhow, the rules had changed. The lively disagreements were not tolerated. I sat quietly and contemplated the fact that as social creatures we are so worried about not being accepted that we often miss chances to be authentic and really get to know one another. 

The Perils of Play

IMG_3790Lawyers and insurance companies are ruling the world and they are taking us in the wrong direction. Simply put, there is more to life than avoiding death. We have been sucked in anyway to avoiding risk at all costs. This is especially acute in today’s parents who have coddled this generation of children so much; they are likely to never leave home.

Many of the children have never walked to school, or been unsupervised for any length of time. Their lives are spent in the home or during a scheduled activity or play date. No parent would risk abduction and let their child play outside alone! Lets not forget the perils of having sunshine on unprotected skin or the risk of a fall.

But we have taken it so far the saying, “Better safe than sorry” is no longer a truism. Take the playground issue for instance. After a particularly damning report about the perils of the city’s playgrounds; that actually was written with a view to how things “should” be built in the future, not a comment on the current dangers on the playground, the city of Toronto ripped out all of it’s play equipment from public properties and schools.

We have all heard this argument. “Now that there is a report saying that the playground is potentially dangerous we are exposed legally.” Again, with the lawyers and the insurance companies. If a child was hurt and the parents decided to go for a windfall of cash, the city would be liable. There was no way to take the risk. Rip out the playgrounds.

The post-game analysis done by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ),
showed a great improvement in safety citing 550 less injuries on playgrounds. Now, an injury is described as any time a form is filled out and “includes injuries attended to by teachers or school staff, as well as those in which the child went home or to a health facility”. Funny thing that the CMAJ article made no mention of how this lack of activity affected the children, their ability to concentrate, their weights or their happiness, to name a few undiscussed variables. The study focused entirely on the reduced risk of injury.

Now with funding the way that it always is — tight, the city did not have a plan to replace all of the equipment with the recommended “safer” equipment. The wealthier neighbourhoods did fundraising and refurbished the playgrounds but after 9 years many of the playgrounds remain barren. So now we also have an economic split. The poorer children are more likely to have no way to be engaged and active during the school day and become higher risk for being named a troublemaker.

In other cities, the rules have become so strict that normal games like tag are not allowed because it requires “touching”. Throwing things can be hazardous. Boisterous play can result in someone getting hurt. In other words, we are asking our children not to play because it is dangerous.

So an entire cohort of children is not being allowed normal physical activity. This same group of children is the fattest, most out of shape generation of children North America has ever seen. The way that we are dealing with this lack of exercise is to take away play. Interesting.

Children that cannot make the adjustment to this lack of exercise can become troublemakers because they will have difficulty concentrating or paying attention. These children may be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and medicated. For that matter, in 2011 one in ten children were diagnosed with ADHD in the US. If children cannot sit still, they are given a pharmacopeia of drugs to help them calm down. So let me summarize, many of our children are driven to school and then they are not allowed to play all day and we medicate them to keep them from being too restless. There is no way to over state this.

A particularly nonconformist principal in New Zealand decided to get rid of all of the rules on his playground at school and yes, there were a few injuries, but many of the other “bad behaviours” decreased. In fact, the students focused better in class. Bullying, tattling and vandalism all decreased and fewer children were getting hurt. Perhaps, just perhaps, kids need to be able to play to stimulate themselves and well, be normal children.

Now the question becomes, how do we deal with the lawyers and the insurance companies that are salivating at the thought of a child breaking her arm on the playground? Until we address that issue, we are putting all of our children at real risk, not just the normal childhood risk of a scraped knee or a bruise.

 

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