Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kids and Knives

I'm in the middle of watching this video of Gever Tully, 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do, from the TED talks in March 2007. He just mentioned that we're moving toward removing all things that might have points or edges on them, and then what will the children do the first time they are exposed to them?

I just felt the urge to pause it and wonder how many kids out there have their own pocket knives, straight blade knives, etc. Do your kids use kitchen knives? Emily and Thomas both got pocket knives, of the Swiss Army type, and straight blade knives, last year. They asked, we got the knives for them. They know how to use them. They don't attack each other with them (generally, when I'm not looking, at least!).

They haven't had a big cut yet, and that will probably happen some day. I can't count how many times Eddie has cut himself or injured himself in some way with knives or hand tools or power tools, or you name it. (Then there's always the rutabaga incident.) But I guess the point was supposed to be that if children are familiar with knives, as tools, as they are in the kitchen, then they grow up comfortable with using them. Nobody wants their child to be hurt, especially if it could have been prevented. But I don't think sheltering kids from an opportunity to learn a skill, a new tool, is a good thing. In the book the Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff, children as young as maybe 3 are using large knives regularly.

This past weekend, Emily and I participated in the fantastic Mother Daughter Weekend, at the Living Earth School.

"Weaving the Sacred Circle! What a special way to spend Mothers Day, in the woods bonding with your daughter. We will connect with the natural world, cook over the fire, make wild edible teas, weave stories of motherhood, daughterhood throughout our day and weave our tales into a basket. Mothers and daughters will make their own basket to go home with."
We used saws and awls to cut gourds to make baskets, and to poke holes to do the weaving. Some girls had knives with them, including Emily. Some didn't, and several girls were probably under 8 yrs old. But they were all interested in using knives. Kate gave a quick knife safety talk to them, and that was it. I believe that all the kids that are participating in the Homeschool Nature Studies program have knives with them each day.

So I'm wondering, when you were a child, when did you first receive a knife to use, if you even did, and if you have children now, do they have knives, what age did they get them, or do you plan to wait for some reason. You can respond in a comment, but I'm going to make a poll for the sidebar also. You can choose multiple answers to include yourself and your kids in the vote.

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piscesgrrl said...

It's another one of those conditioning things. When we visited Panama, I could barely watch as a boy of about 8 visited, wielding a machete that was nearly as long as him. He asked if I'd like to have some coconut and proceeded to hack one open. I even made the mistake of saying something about him being so young and my sister rolled her eyes and said "Look around." It's subsistence-level living and most things are born of necessity and common sense.

It's a lesson I've not forgotten.

I don't have any good knife stories, but I realized early on that using gates to block stairways, and other such 'baby-proofing' strategies, didn't make much sense. If I never let him crawl the stairs, how long before he'd do so without hurting himself?

He'd scamper up, I'd follow. And there was no 'forbidden fruit' allure so my son didn't make a move for them every time I looked away like some kids do.