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When I was twelve it was the ‘90s and I lived in the South. Parents in the south are notoriously lax about what kinds of dangerous things they will let their kids play with. Unfortunately for me, my parents were from the North and that meant that I often was left out in the cold when it came to getting to play with toys deemed “dangerous” by the media and society in general. Looking back at my decision-making skills, it was probably for the best, but I at the time I always felt like I was getting gypped. Here are a few of the things that most 12-year-old boys wanted for Christmas or a birthday but probably never got for one reason or another.
7 Pony It’s the one thing that boys and girls could somewhat agree on. Girls wanted to ride through the woods like a princess after watching My Little Pony, while boys wanted to saddle up and ride like cowboys on the ol’ range. But we didn’t fully realize what an undertaking an animal of this size was. You needed food, shelter, shots and a litany of other things that made pony ownership both expensive and time consuming. Not to mention the danger of falling off a spooked horse in the middle of the woods. Face it, mommy and daddy only loved you enough to rent you a pony for your birthday party. Remind them of that when it comes time to pick a retirement home…
6 Four-Wheeler Sure, if you wanted to drive a motorcycle or a car you’d have to wait till you turned 16, but for some reason four-wheelers were perfectly acceptable to drive as long as you could reach the pedals. They are exceptionally fun to ride but are ridiculously easy to tip over. Parents knew it was only a matter of time until you became comfortable enough to construct a crude dirt ramp and jump one of these things over a creek. There was a good reason Evel Knievel spent a good portion of his life coated in plaster and it had everything to do with thinking like a 12-year-old on a four wheeler. Need proof of this? The guy wore a cape his entire life…which was awesome but obviously not normal.
5 BB Gun I think the film A Christmas Story may have ruined BB guns for my entire generation. And it’s not hard to see why a lot of parents are uneasy with the thought of arming their children. As a young man, I had friends with BB guns, and while it didn’t always end badly, there were some one pump wars that ended with blood and crying and a lifetime of being stopped at airport metal detectors. Would you really end up shooting your eye out? It’s hard to say. But for a lot of us, mom and dad weren’t going to give us the opportunity to do so.
4 The Good Fireworks When you’re a kid you don’t really understand how fireworks actually worked, you only knew them to be awesome. You’d go to the fireworks stand and ask for the biggest box with those monster mortars that you saw at the 4th of July parade last year. You’d end up with a box of sparklers, those stupid black snakes that grew out of the ground, and a few of those funnels that sparked and screamed but never sent anything careening a couple hundred feet into the air like you dreamed they would. You’d get mad at the guy at the fireworks stand for bamboozling you into buying a product he knew you didn’t want. I’m 12, chief. Hit me up with the good rockets or I’m coming back with that stick I smash those black snakes with and wail on your lying knees.
3 Half-Pipe I had a friend that was lucky enough to have a half-pipe in his back yard. If you were a kid who rode BMX bikes, skateboarded or had roller-blades, you may have asked your parents to build you one, as it was the ultimate ramp experience. When you are little you don’t understand things like “liability” and “health insurance policy” as they pertain to building a structure that will pit gravity against uncoordinated 12-year-olds. There were horrific bruises, stitches and a concussion that didn’t deter the neighborhood children, but did cause panic amongst adults that lectured their battered children as they drove to the hospital. Even with the injuries, it was still fun. And most kids would tell mom it was “totally worth it” if their mouth wasn’t wired shut for the next six to eight weeks.
2 Compound Bow Some kids who wanted a serious bow went into full “William Tell me why I can’t get a red bandanna and a compression bow” and go all John Rambo on the neighborhood. I lived in the south, so I had friends who had these babies from a young age, and honestly, they were more of a menace to neighborhood birds and squirrels than anything else. But it only took video of one kid on the local news coming home looking like General Custer to ruin Rambo-time for everyone within a 100 mile radius. It was always the stupidest kids that drew first blood and killed the fun of juvenile munitions for all of us.
1 Trampoline There was probably not a more dangerous or enjoyable “toy” that you could get. There was the game “popcorn” and back flips, front flips and trying to bounce people off, and then came broken bones, concussions and agonizing bruises. Trampolines possessed all that was great about gravity and being a kid and mixed it in with all that was terrible about gravity and being a kid. You knew that everything that went up had to come down, but had no idea of the bone density needed to land at angles so awkward they would make Cirque du Soleil cringe. Hello bouncing fun…hello shattered femur…goodbye dreams of being a trampoline owner.