Dane Best: Child hero

Dane Best, age 9, ended the ban on snowball fights in his hometown of Severance, Colorado last week. After discovering the 100 year old law during a field trip to town hall, the young activist went to work, lobbying successfully to have a law banning snow balls repealed.

Best told the town board that if he was victorious, his first act would be to lob a snowball at his four year-old brother.

I like this kid.

I also like it when the world gets slightly more dangerous for children.

When I was a kid, we routinely threw snowballs at each other at recess. We brought sleds and saucers to school and raced down hills at dangerous speeds. We played street hockey with wooden sticks and hardened pucks. Played dodgeball against a brick wall with a racquetball. Leapt off enormous snowbanks into piles of snow.

It was wonderful way to grow up.

Not all that long ago, my students and I would carve out chutes in the snowbanks at my school to increase their speed as I flung them down the backside of those hills towards the forest. Grabbing them by the hands, I would catapult them with all my might down those chutes as they screamed in delight.

It was such fun. Joyous, even. Kids slid and tumbled and giggled. Cheeks turned red. Pants got soaked. Snow ended up stuffed in their socks and ears.

Eventually the snowbanks were deemed too dangerous to climb, even though I cannot recall a single serious injury occurring while playing on these snowbanks.

The possibility of injury was more than enough to end the fun.

A few weeks ago, my own children asked me if they could play outside. “Yes!” I shouted. “Go find some trouble!”

The kids ran outside, completely and gloriously unsupervised. A few minutes later, my neighbor knocked on my door. He wanted me to know that he was doing some yard work and would keep an eye on my kids.

“No!” I said. “Don’t watch them. I want them to find some trouble. I want a hungry bear to wander into the yard or truck filled with dangerous chemicals to overturn beside them. I want them to face something hard and scary and fun.”

Thank goodness for kids like Dane Best, who are fighting for the right to be pummeled by snowballs on a crisp, winter day.

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