Messing around with friends doing risky and slightly dangerous things is part and parcel of getting to know our boundaries as children. Much of what kids find fun has parents wincing with excruciating fear that injuries are not far away, and often this is true. What parents don’t often consider is that it’s not just as a youngster that their child will act as recklessly. Once alcohol comes along it’s open season on foolish behaviour. Many injuries we only seem to sustain as children or while drunk – here’s a run-down.
One of the classic injuries for anyone who trips while running. For children running is part of every day life, playing games like “It” or even the daring “Kiss Chase.” For a drunk it can be a thrilling experience if taken as a whim, but it can be a hideous ordeal if forced, like running for the last bus. The pain of anyone who grazes their hands after falling is offset by the knowledge that they saved you from landing on your face.
Any self-respecting child spends the majority of their junior years with scabby knees after falls, slides and any number of japes and carrying-ons. We all remember inhaling with that hissing sound through clenched teeth as we closely examined the bits of grit in our bent knee. For the drunk, the grazed knee is perhaps the least serious of the ailments experienced after a simple fall – the alternatives being head or hand injuries. However, when you crumple at the knees in front of the bar you know it’s time to leave.
Crashing your bike
Bikes have retained their popularity with kids even during this, our golden age of games consoles and childhood obesity. Coming off one can lead to a plethora of injuries from a chipped tooth to a broken arm, depending on the circumstances. Getting back on a bike after a long absence and while drunk revisits that carefree abandon, but one that is really just recklessness in disguise. You speed down that hill with the wind in your hair, feeling like you’re in a Guns ‘n Roses video, but your ego is writing cheques your body can’t cash when you come spiralling off at the bottom.
Falling down the stairs
Getting used to climbing up and down the stairs can be tricky for children and this can end in tears sometimes. After years of practice you would think our troubles with the stairs would be long gone, but throw a few drinks into the mix and they can turn into the worst kind of obstacle course. Injuries sustained on a stair-fall can be serious, so if in doubt, kip on the sofa.
Falling out of a tree
A great thrill of childhood, climbing trees occupies a lot of time for a lot of children. Or at least it used to. Falling out of them happens regularly and the list of potential injuries is long and cringe-worthy, ranging from broken limbs to black eyes. The list is no less serious when an inebriated adult clambers up a tree, but can be curbed by the fact they may be unable to get high enough to cause any real damage when they come plummeting out.
Hitting your head on the kerb
Nobody other than a child or a drunk has any business having their head anywhere near the kerb. Children are always doing something on the pavements and streets – playing football, skipping, building ramps for scooters. Drunks use the pavements for getting home, but this can be difficult at times, occasionally ending up with the clichéd drunk spending some quality time in the gutter.
What with the tooth fairy and all, losing teeth as a child was gruesome but great fun. Wobbling that loose tooth in front of your friends drew squeals of excitement and the examination after extraction was better than any science lesson. Contrast this to the true horror of losing a tooth as an adult. Waking up with a missing tooth must be perhaps the worst way to start a hangover, especially if it’s a front tooth. Chances are it’s stuck in the fist of a fellow Slayer fan or imbedded in the bar of your local.
We’re curious little beasts as children and poking and prodding an animal is beyond temptation for most. Nature is quick to teach us our boundaries and with a bite or a scratch we grow to learn caution. Until we discover alcohol. Then we love a bit of rough and tumble with the dog or cat, rarely noticing our shredded and mauled hands and head until the next day, when the learning process begins afresh.
Remember those plastic, round-ended scissors you used when you were young? These are the ones you should use when you’re drunk. Children have to learn co-ordination, but at least they know this. One slip with a real pair and you’re into your hand, as anybody trying to open a plastic-wrapped pizza after a night on the tiles knows.
For children this is another “live and learn” experience about knowing what you can and can’t get away with. The rush of panic from being unable to remove your hand from between a railing, or wherever, is unlike anything else – as is the exhilaration of getting it out. The drunk comes prepared with a warped sense of spatial awareness and a devil-may-care attitude – not a good combination for assessing whether a hand will fit or not. The fire brigade will not be impressed.
Consuming so much you’re sick
Wolfing down Easter eggs or Christmas chocolates was part and parcel of the joys of childhood. Unaware of our gastronomic limits, it was only when it was too late that we realised we’d had too much. Naive children are outdone each weekend by their more experienced counterparts, who gobble down drink after drink before erupting into an innocent victim’s flower bed. Will we never learn?
Foreign object stuck in somewhere
Pea up the nose, bead in the ear – children will have a go at putting anything in anywhere. More of a voyage of discovery than anything else, the child soon learns the limitations of the human body. As drunk adults, our insertion of foreign objects into bodily orifices is largely humour-driven, but that doesn’t mean that cocktail olive is any more likely to make it our of your ear than if you were five-years-old. You fool.
When your face hits the ground first, you know you’re in trouble. For children the fall is usually broken first by the hands or elbows, with just minor scratches to the face, but often the motor skills of the drunk are so inhibited and unresponsive that the hands don’t have time to do their job. The drunk literally falls flat on his face, causing not just grazing, but anything from a broken nose to missing teeth. Ugly.
No other injury looks as ridiculously cartoonish as a fat lip, so not only do we have to deal with the pain, we also have to suffer the indignity of looking like a tit. This is more easily done as a child, when the injury might be sustained from a clash of heads, bike fall or simple rough and tumble. As drunks, the fat lip is more likely to be a mis-judged and over enthusiastic quaff, or a simple punch in the face.
Poorly executed piggy-back dismount
When a group of children are messing around outside it’s only a matter of time before one gets on the back of another – it’s just what kids do. When an adult is around, even better. Dismounting, however, can be tricky, and everyone remembers going over the top occasionally and landing on our hands then our faces. Usually it doesn’t lead to serious injury, but when both the passenger and pilot are blind drunk – and doing one of those running stumbles – the result is worse than a normal running fall. Rest safe in the knowledge that you deserved it.