Not Too High - March 21, 2024 | Kids Out and About Seattle <

Not Too High

March 21, 2024

Debra Ross

Do you know the Greek myth about Daedelus and Icarus? Daedelus and his son, Icarus, were imprisoned in a labyrinth on the island of Crete. To escape, Daedalus built wings for each of them made of feathers held together with wax. Despite warnings from his father, Icarus flew too close to the Sun, which melted the wax, plummeting him into the sea. The story has been used as a cautionary tale for over 2000 years to remind humans not to get too big for our britches.

I always hated this story when I was a kid: I thought it was unfair for the culture to tell me to dream big, and also not to fly too high or I'd get burned. Back then, I wondered if I'd feel differently when I was an adult... but nope, I still hate the Daedalus and Icarus myth. In fact, I feel even more strongly now that the caution for humans to stay complacently in place is pernicious nonsense. We're built to create, to achieve, to transcend... and to feel good about having done so. I want to launch my kids so they can fly as high and far as they want.

If it were up to me, I'd rewrite the story from Daedelus's perspective. I'd tell Icarus that wanting to touch greatness is a GOOD thing: It's how we make progress, and how we learn from our mistakes. But I'd also probably make it an occasion for some science learning: "You know, buddy, the surface of the Sun is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, think about what heat does to wax. So maybe reach for the stars instead?"

And then, being a mom, I'd be hovering somewhere not too far below, just in case he needed catching.