Everyone Loves a Daredevil

dare devilI always wondered where my four sons got their love for adventure and risk-taking. As a girl, I never ever took chances – from grades to discipline to dating, I never wanted to take a chance either in disappointing my parents or on risking serious consequences for dangerous behaviors.

My sons, on the other hand, tried all sorts of shenanigans. One crawled tardy with one of my best teacher friends – military-style, on thighs and elbows – as if she couldn’t see him sneak in. Another dived over forty feet from a rocky ledge into a lake, unsure how far the rock extended below the surface of the water.

One son sneaked our car out of the garage and went for donuts at three a.m. We found out when a police officer pulled him over for driving without his headlights on; he was thirteen. Another rolled in poison oak with his 100-pound black retriever and got infected so bad the sores were inside his body.

mountain climbingAnother rode his bicycle through the house while we were away, alerting our neighbor who never mentioned a word even though she saw the whole thing from across the street.  Several others ran away from home with small knapsacks over their shoulders, but returned after four or five hours when no one noticed they were gone.high diving

They performed risky tricks on bicycles and skateboards, and on one particular morning wheeled into the school parking lot so fast they lost the rims on two of the tires.

I suppose there was a conspiracy of silence because I never heard about most of these tricks until my children were grown and enjoyed loved recounting their childhood antics. “Where did they get such a high tolerance for risk-taking?” I complained to Dr. Big.

Turns out, when Big was eight he set half of Oakland on fire (his words, not mine). He and his friends would light fires in manholes and wait for the fire trucks to come. They’d break out the windows of abandoned buildings. Later, in his small Utah coal-mining town, they’d climb trees and throw firecrackers at the security guard for the coal mine. The guy had a gun, so not sure this was very smart.

The mystery of the adventure gene is now solved!  It came down through the Robertson line.

What about you?  As a kid or adolescent were you a nervous nelly or a devilish daredevil?  A cautious soul or a risk taker?


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  • Jane says:

    Hello Jo,
    I was a nervous nelly as akid and still somewhat of a cautious soul. I envied other kids and now adults who can take the leap without worrying about every detail and without doubt.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Me, too, Jane. I was afraid of making a mistake. But as I’ve gotten older I find myself trying new things. Writing my first novel was a huge leap for me.

  • Helen says:


    I am a bit like you I was too scared to do too many things that I knew I shouldn’t but I am sure I did a few and as for my kids I am still hearing about things they did as kids that I never knew about either and I am sure all of this behavviour came from their fathers side of the family as well LOL

    Have Fun

  • Amy Conley says:

    Good morning Jo. Your boys sound like mine. I won’t bore you with their antics since they sound a lot like your own boys.
    I was a bit of both growing up. I towed the line, tried doinv alll the “right” things…but then I got my driver’s license and all bets were off. In many ways I really was the good kid, but since I was the oldest, I got in trouble whenever my siblings did something wrong/bad. I finally had enough of getting in trouble for “setting a good example since I was the oldest” and cut loose. And I didn’t just do the small stuff, oh no. You’ve heard the saying, ” go big or go home”, I went really big and got pregnant, with twins when I was 16. Can’t get any worze for a catholic girl. LOL

    • Caren Crane says:

      Amy, you make me laugh! Yeah, all that partying caught up with me, too, but not until I was 20! 😀

    • Jo Robertson says:

      Ah, Amy, the car is such a big lure for teens, isn’t it? I didn’t get one until I was 18, but I promptly got a speeding ticket. My dad knew the cop, so he tore the ticket up (which you can’t get away with today), but I learned my lesson about speeding.

      Yep, pregnancy is a big one. I tell my granddaughter that it’s always the “good” girls who get in trouble b/c they’re not prepared. And I stuff a condom in her purse!

  • Shannon says:

    When I was in my teens in a small town where everyone knew my business, I toed the very straight and narrow line. I lived for the day I could go to the big city and live around bright lights.

    But then I went to college first in Spokane and then Syracuse. After I’d left my first college, my brother was partying in Spokane. I don’t know how my party lifestyle came up, but the next time we met, he asked “you did what at Whitworth?” I look back on that with a smile and a shudder.

    • Jo Robertson says:

      I totally get that “smile and shudder,” Shannon. It’s a miracle some of us are alive to tell the tale.

      Small towns are the worst! Everyone knows everyone else’s business.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Jo, I fear I was a bit of both. Started out as a nervous nelly, watching my older sisters (and then my younger sister and brother) get into all the trouble. I kinda-sorta participated, but never did anything very adventurous. After I graduated from high school, though, all bets were off. I participated in some rather risky behavior, though I was just having fun at the time. My husband was like your boys as an adolescent, although he had apparently been a very sweet little boy at one time, according to my MIL. 🙂

    I think most kids need a bit of both. We tried to let our kids spread their wings some and try some things that were bad ideas. They have to learn to suffer consequences, after all! They weren’t nearly as wide-open as my siblings (or even me, later on), though. Thank heavens!

    • Jo Robertson says:

      I just had a discussion with my grown kids whose teens are experiencing bad grades. I think the area of grades is the place for natural consequences to happen. Even the worst scenario for getting bad grades isn’t the most horrible thing in the world.

      Not like drunk driving where the consequence can be death and destruction.

  • Mozette says:

    When we were young, my brother and I were daredevils. We climbed trees, skateboarded, rollar-bladed, made human pyramids with the neighbourhood kids (and yes I was the one on the top!) jump off the top of the front verandah (thirteen steps up!)…. and that was when we were around 12 years old and younger…

    Then, there was Grandpa’s home made go-cart. Man, that thing was covered in redback spiders and had no brakes! We didn’t wear any helmets or pads… it was the nice, wide, rocky footpath of Wonderlost Outlook (which was intensely steep as hell!) and just us! What a ride! the only way to stop was to run the thing into some shrubbery on the footpath at the bottom of the hill, run it into the Lantana in the creek or put the heels of sneakers down and have the stones fly up the back of our legs! We normally ran it up against the shrub… 😛

    Such fun! And even then we were only around 10 years old. 😀

    Since then, the go-cart has rotted. The redback spiders had over taken it and Wonderlost Outlook became far too dangerous to take a go-cart down it anyway… nobody looks for anyone on go-carts anymore. 🙁

  • Jo, I’m definitely the cautious type. I never wanted to risk parental outrage. Or arrest. I grew up in a small town and always knew that if I did something out of line, word would reach home before I did.

    The dh was more of a daredevil. Now he’ll dive into a situation with much less investigation than I require before I’ll commit.

  • Jo,

    Have you and I ever talked about my theory about men? It’s very scientifically based.

    Women have 2 X chromosomes. They look like X’s in the images. Men on the other hand have 1 perfect X, while the other, (called a Y by scientists) resembles more of an X with one lower leg broken off to me. This explains anything men do that makes you shake your head and ask “this became a good idea how?”……because….They’re BROKEN!

    I’ll take risks, as long as I’ve calculated the safety and welfare standard into the equation first!

  • flchen1 says:

    Cautious, cautious, cautious!!! My eyes are opened SO wide at the recounting of some of your family’s adventures, Jo!

  • catslady says:

    I was the good kid lol. My older sister was more daring than me but usually got away with it. Then I met my future husband and he had me doing things I never would have done…going to stop at that lol.

  • My two older brothers were the dare-devils. I was always reading somewhere and couldn’t be bothered to get in trouble (grin). My riskiest behaviour was agreeing to marry my husband when I didn’t really know him well enough. I knew this – so I insisted that I be at least 21 when we married. That was three years away. I figured if he could hang in on a long distance relationship for three years, it would be a sign. Guess it was as we’re about to celebrate our 41st anniversary.

  • Becke says:

    Uh-oh! I believe it’s in the genes and I definitely have it right along with my children and one grandson and one granddaughter.

    Fear was something I interpreted as anger so I would be the one that rushed head long into danger. Worse, it didn’t seem to worry my parents. On the other hand, my grands tend to make me a little crazy. Payback is a B****!

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Oh, yeah, Becke. Don’t you find yourself worrying about them much more than you did about your own welfare?