This picture was taken 5 years ago. Luke was 5 and Lochlan was 3. If you look closely you’ll see they both are holding tomahawks and throwing knives. But, they weren’t just posing for a picture, they were just taking a break from actually throwing them. Now before you say, “That’s dangerous!” or “What were you thinking?!” or “Don’t you think they were a little young for that?” Think about the average toys for todays young children. Many of them are “safe” replicas of “grown up” toys and tools. Kids naturally want to be like their parents—- monkey see, monkey do. So on the surface, pretend tools seem like a great idea.
But what happens when your curious and motivated kiddo gets his hands on Daddy’s real tools? Accidents can happen so quickly. And children can and do get hurt. However, when you introduce real tools instead of pretend ones, you have the opportunity to teach your children about the dangers of the tool. I have to give Mitch all the credit here, but I remember him constantly repeating to the kids, every time he handed them a knife, for example, “Where is the sharp side? (the cutting edge) Where is the pointy side? (The tip of the blade.) How do you hold it? (Good safe grip and pointing down when moving with it.) How do you use it? (Always moving the blade away from their bodies.) “. Once they proved they could answer the questions correctly they were given the responsibility of using the tool (always under supervision, of course).
Children are so much more capable than society gives them credit for. When we limit them they don’t have the opportunity to excel in hobbies, skills, and abilities that can be so useful to them (and to us too). Teaching children how to use real tools instead of toy tools empowers them and instills a self-assurance that is rarely cocky, but rather is simply quietly confident. As the saying goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” And now, at ages 10 and 7 Luke and Lochlan are capable and responsible boys who we can rely on to help around our homestead in many ways. So friends, teach your children, let them earn your trust, and then watch them excel.