Now that the debate has ended over whether one teenager was too young to take on the risk of adventure, debate can begin on another one.
Jordan Romero, 13, is embarking on a mission to climb Mt. Everest. If he survives, he'll be the youngest person ever to do so. He departed the base camp with his father on Saturday.
"Jordan's a physically strong teenager who's like an unfinished Ferrari -- raw power, without brakes, lights or the ability to maintain equal pressure on the gas pedal," said Dr. Michael J. Bradley told the New York Times. He's a psychologist and author of "When Things Get Crazy With Your Teen: The Why, the How and What to Do Now" "Most 13-year-olds just don't have the wiring to make cognitive life and death decisions and are not truly able to understand what they're signing on for."
That's very much like what people were saying about Laura Dekker, 16, who wanted to sail around the world alone. Last year, the courts in The Netherlands declared she was too young and refused her permission.
This week, Jessica Watson -- also 16 -- proved she's not too young to sail around the world alone. She arrived in Australia, completing her trip. When she left last October, her parents were heavily criticized for allowing her to go.
In most of these cases, the question is usually "who's running the show?" Is it a kid who really wants an adventure? Or a parent who's pushing a child? That harkens back to the tragic story of Jessica Dubroff, a 7-year-old who allegedly wanted to become the youngest person ever to fly across the country. She crashed and was killed in Wyoming, along with a flight instructor, who was actually doing most of the flying.
I hope the father, at least, has read "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer.
I think he's done more than that. From the articles I've read on this family, the father and his partner climb for a living. While the idea of a 13 year old making that ascent unsettles me, I also think it's important to remember that it's not like he's a flatlander kid who has never been up a mountain before.
Remember the 9 year old whose mom let him get home from a store by himself in NYC? People flipped out about that, too, but I think much of the reaction was because they were thinking of their own kids, who may not have grown up taking public transportation in a large city and would not have known where they were.
There was an article/blog in the NY Times today about this very subject called "Parents of Young Adventurers" - http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/parents-of-young-adventurers-2/