Take the kids outside on the Fourth

The blazing sun, the taste of a slice of watermelon and the whistle of an airborne chunk of a plastic action figure blown to smithereens by a battery of Black Cat firecrackers are among my fondest memories of the Fourth of July.

In my backyard, G.I. Joe didn’t abide by the Geneva Conventions. When he encountered soldiers from Cobra (a force of evil terrorists bent on world domination), he used whatever was handy to subdue his opponent. In June and early July, Black Cat firecrackers were almost always within reach.

Through intensive battlefield research, Joe found that a minimum of three Black Cats were needed to put Cobra soldiers down permanently, but only if all three detonated at the same time. To increase the odds that this would happen, my friends and I used at least nine firecrackers on each of the bad guys.

Aside from being a bit destructive, it was good, clean fun. No flesh-and-blood creatures, human or otherwise, lost any parts. And it was active play. We stayed fit and trim, mostly because we spent our summers sprinting away from lit fuses.

But times have changed. My folks were great parents, but they did let me out of their sight. My own kids are never out of my line of vision. A lot of the activities my I participated in when I was growing up just wouldn’t have been possible if any responsible adults were looking over my shoulder.

Children today suffer because of that. We don’t let them outside, and when we do, we’re constantly telling them, “Don’t do that!” “Stay away from there!” “Don’t you DARE light that fuse!”

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Keeping our children safe should be our No. 1 priority. But we’re doing them a disservice if by keeping them out of harm’s way, we’re taking away the discovery, enjoyment and excitement of childhood.

So take your kids outside today. Take a hike. Go fishing. And if you own some land where fireworks are legal, show the kids how to blow a Cobra soldier to the moon. For safety’s sake, don’t forget to teach them how to run for cover.