It was a dare. Heck, it may have been a triple-dog-dare. I’d have a heart attack if I did it today, although when I was young, it seemed like a good idea.

After the city had finished painting the water tower on our street a couple of us decided it’d be a great time to paint graffiti. While the city was asleep, we climbed the stairs to the top and wrote something, although I really can’t remember what it was, except for certain it wasn’t our names.

Although I did plenty of stupid things as a teenager, the end result would typically just cause grief for my parents who’d have to clean up the messes I created. Never was there a time I intentionally did anything to purposely hurt someone else. Pouring scalding hot water on one of my friends never seemed like a good time.

This new challenge for the teens has taken the cake. Not only are they burning each other with scalding water, they’re also daring each other to drink it through a straw resulting in severe burns in their mouths and throats. How could this possibly be any fun?

The challenge to find ways to have a good time has escalated, and my only guess is because it’s so easy for kids to get anything they want. From alcohol to drugs, fast cars to the latest in high-tech gadgets, teens don’t have to work for what they want. In my day (wow, I can just hear my dad saying this same line) just to get out of the house after dark was a challenge.

Maybe we’re shielding kids so much they’re losing the common sense we learned the hard way? For example, if you play with boiling water, it’s going to hurt. I was well aware if I fell off the water tower it wasn’t going to be a pretty site, but I was doing it to myself, not someone else. I’d never get to the top and see what it would be like to push my friend off the edge.

I think this started when society decided it was their job to protect our kids. Parents are afraid to discipline their unruly children for fear their kids will no longer “like” them the way society is pushing the family unit to become. Schools can’t discipline kids because the parents get mad.

Basically kids can get away with most anything without too much of a consequence. No one wants to be “that” parent. The mean one. The one who puts their foot down, says no and sticks to their decision. You’re either going to be a parent or their friend. You can’t be both, until they’re adults, and then they’re no longer mad at you for being the mean one, they’re appreciative.

Our meeting place was the water tower. We spent many hours sitting behind the cover of the evergreens surrounding the lot the tower sat on. There wasn’t any fencing to keep us out, just bushes. That was our entertainment, just sitting there doing what every other teenager in the ’70s was doing, which may have been frying our brains, but at least we weren’t scaring each other with boiling water.

Maybe it’s time we get the kids off the electronics so they can learn to be challenged by their own mind rather than the latest challenge on Youtube.

Tell them to go outside. Just stay clear of the water tower.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at