It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Burt's Eye View

Has any kid ever poked an eye out? His, hers or anyone else’s?

That was the No. 1 threat parents gave to make us quit doing something:

“Don’t run with that stick in your hand. You’ll fall and poke your eye out.”

“Keep throwing those balled up socks like that and you’ll poke your sister’s eye out.”

“Stop chewing your Cap’n Crunch so loudly. You’ll poke somebody’s eye out.”

The classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” in which Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun but is told no — because he’ll shoot his eye out — is truth. Except that the Daisey BB rifle I begged for STILL hasn’t shown up 50-some years later.

But I kept my eyes.

To hear grownups talk, half of us kids should have been outfitted in those glasses with pingpong eyeballs dangling from springs. At least then, we could poke our eyes back in.

Then again, I grew up in a dangerous age. I was reminded of that recently when this year’s list of the 10 most dangerous toys came out.

The 2019 list as noted by Joan Siff, president of World Against Toys Causing Harm — W.A.T.C.H. — includes pull-along caterpillars, plastic Power Rangers claws and Nerf dart guns.

The organization says the Nerf Ultra One gun, which shoots soft darts up to 120 feet, fires projectiles with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries.

Or as parents back in my day would have hollered, “Quit blasting your little brother. You’ll poke his eye out.”

Thanks to spoilsports like W.A.T.C.H., parents will be able to retire that worn-out eye-poking phrase. Much of the life-threatening excitement has been sapped right out of playtime. Now that I am an adult — by age if not by behavior — I admit that many of the stunts we pulled were crazy.

In those days, automobile backseats were huge and lacked seat belts. If Dad hit the brakes hard enough, we’d shoot from our perch on the back window ledge all the way to the dashboard. That always elicited screams: “No fair! It was my turn. Launch me!”

We never wore helmets, knee pads or elbow pads when we biked or skated — or rode in cars.

I think I was 8 when I played my first game of Lawn Jarts with my little brother. Grandma herself handed us the little metal spears. “Stand away from the target or you’ll get your eye poked out,” she said.

Christmas gifts included a Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker in which we heated Plastigoop in metal molds to 390 degrees, and a wood-burning pen that ramped up to 700 degrees to scorch wood.

We also ran around with metal cap guns loaded with rolls of tiny percussive fireworks, and pocketknives so that we could whittle toy cars out of blocks of wood. Then we threw the cars at each other.

It was a savage time.

One of the toys on this year’s W.A.T.C.H. list is Nickelodeon’s Frozen Treats Slime, goop that is scented in mint chocolate chip, berry smoothie and snow cone aromas. The group says parents shouldn’t buy the stuff for their kids because it’s made of harmful chemicals and shouldn’t be eaten.

Great advice. We had no warning labels on mud pies or cookies that had been on the floor more than five seconds — or five days. My folks would have said, “If you’re stupid enough to eat slime, a good belly ache ought to smarten you up. Just don’t throw it. You’ll poke somebody’s eye out.”

Safety first, kids, safety first. Always wear goggles.

— Poke Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @Burton WCole on Twitter.


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