Risky Behavior


From the desk of Wally Dawkins, Athletic Director:

It was a warm and clear September night.

Two friends of mine and I decided we needed pumpkins for Halloween and we knew exactly where to find some…for free!

Less than a mile from our subdivision, a local farmer had one of the best pumpkin patches around.  We decided to return to this “lucky patch” for a second time, and pick three plump, orange pumpkins, right from the vine.  We had pulled this same stunt a year earlier, and it proved to be a risk worth taking.

We soon realized that unfortunately, the only good pumpkins in the patch, were sitting just out back of the farmers white frame house, which was surrounded by a white rail fence that stood about four feet high.  We were not to be deterred however, and after plucking three prime “pumpkins”, we quickly approached the fence to make our getaway.  Suddenly, the loud slamming of the farmers back screen door signaled his realization that “pumpkin pirates” were stealing away with the bounty.  As we scaled the white fence, close to making it over, the blast from a shotgun rang out.  Big Mike Etter, the older of my two friends screamed “I’ve been hit”!

The incident I described above actually happened when I was a freshman in high school.

Since that incident, taking risks is not something I have liked to do, nor is engaging in risky behavior.

I guess I’ve always been a little bit of a chicken, but I do think the pumpkin caper really affected me.

Examples; I enjoy flying…but I don’t want to jump out of a plane.

I like going to the beach…but I won’t join an expedition to swim with Great White sharks.

I will drive 75-80 MPH on the Interstate 20… but speed, really fast speed scares me.

Growing up, both of my parents cautioned me about “pushing the envelope”.

Scare tactics were used quite often when it came to discouraging us from doing crazy things like driving too fast, diving head first into stock tanks, or perhaps the most dangerous activity of all…toilet papering people’s houses.

My parents always created the “worst case scenario…scenario”.

Another factor that could have possibly contributed to my avoidance of taking ill-advised risks, were my parents constant insistence that I be a rule follower and respect authority.  My dad was an Air Force guy, and “order” was the rule of the day.  My three sisters and I were taught to respect our teachers, respect those who were in authority like the principal or the Youth Minister at church, and respect those who were older…our elders.  We were also warned to have a polite and healthy respect for the police.  If my dad said it once he said it a thousand times as we were driving down the road past a parked police car;

“Don’t look at em” he would say.

“If you look at em they’ll think your breaking the law”.

We thought that might have been one of the dumbest things my dad ever said, but to this day I try not to look at policemen when I drive past them.

I think the combination of the pumpkin caper, along with my parents scare tactics and insistence that I follow the rules and respect those who make the rules and enforce them, has steered me towards a “low-risk” lifestyle.

Boring?  Possibly.

Have I ever been arrested?  Never (except for that one time in Mexico which I can totally explain).

Still alive?  Yes…last time I checked.

I don’t regret not being a risk taker, and I don’t regret not engaging in what I would call “risky behavior”.

Being a parent, I also discouraged risky behavior by my children.  I too would tell of the horrible circumstances that resulted when a young person acted crazy, AND I taught them to respect those who are in authority (listen to John Cougar Mellencamp’s song “I Fought Authority and Authority Always Won”).

As parents, we will be well ahead of the game if we warn our children of the consequences in participating in what amounts to risky behavior, and risky behavior can come in all forms and fashions.  Challenging authority figures in an incorrect manner can also have dire consequences.

Now don’t get me wrong!  I am not saying that we should teach our children to never question, to never ask why or that they should never challenge, or to never take a chance.

But, we do need to teach them how and when to question appropriately, and to weigh the odds in the chances they decide to take.

I have an extreme amount of confidence in our teachers and coaches at Brook Hill as they model appropriate behavior, mentor on a daily basis concerning choices and attitudes, and share wisdom with students encouraging them to live a productive and meaningful life.  I know that as parents, we welcome help from any and all sources if it helps prevent our worst fears from being realized which is to see our children make bad life-altering choices, become severely injured…or worse.

As Big Mike Etter lay face down on his living room couch with his brother Mark and me kneeling beside him, I will never forget the painful grimace on his face, or forget the awful sounds he made.

Each time Big Mike’s mom would remove a piece of the rock salt that lay lodged in the back of his bare legs with a pair of tweezers, my friend would wince in pain.  He had been hit, but only with a shell loaded with rock salt.  Not only did we leave the pumpkins with the farmer that night, but the lesson learned has proved to be invaluable to me.

Just another reason to be “ALL ORANGE…All the Time”!