Editor’s Note: This is Jake’s first entry in our Reader Essay Contest. I missed it at the bottom of my inbox. Apologies for the delay. If you would like to enter our contest, please send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Spyderco and our other sponsors for the incredible prize pool.
Let Your Son Play With Knives.
By Jake Middleton
Every parent and every family has their own style. As a father to a slightly older than three year old boy, and another boy on the way, I think that we as a country, by and large are sissifying our kids, specifically our boys. While the popular phrase nowadays is “War” on everything, whether that is the “war on middle class”, and many other things.the one “war” that I think is really going on is the “war on boys”. Since when did it not become okay for boys to act like little boys? I’m not that old(29), but even when I was in grade school and high school we couldn’t be “rough” and had to play nice with everyone, not get dirty and by that time, all of the shop classes were no more. We were stuck in front of a computer/teacher all day. Our teachers wanted us to concentrate and sit still like the girls, girls were “easy”.
Even when my wife was pregnant with my first son, more people than I can even recall said “Hope you have a girl, girls are EASY”. I don’t know anything about raising girls, but is parenting supposed to be easy? In this day and age raising a boy, or multiple boys is hard. I can only speak for where I live, in the ‘burbs of Upstate New York. Up here though, you are looked down on if you raise a “boy”. Everything is gender neutral, and everyone should be treated the same. I’m sorry though, boys and girls are different in more ways than they are similar, and they must be raised differently. Much of it is ingrained in them(in my opinion). Even when my son was one and a half, he would rarely wrestle with his mother, but she was the one he ran to to get cuddled and comforted.
This is why we have two generations(and it started with mine) who never move out of their parents house, can’t or won’t find work. Get liberal art degrees and then work at applebees for five years while they “find themselves”, while what the country needs are mechanics, welders, construction workers and electricians.
I am no expert parent, I make plenty of mistakes, and I’m sure I will make plenty more, but one thing that I do great, is let my son be a boy. I let him get dirty, play in the mud, help me with EVERY house project, get hurt, get cut, fall down, climb trees, jump in puddles and spit. It certainly makes for a lot of dirty clothes and bruised knees, but it also has made for an extremely well behaved three year old who holds the door open for ladies(seriously, everywhere we go), uses his manners, and is incredibly self reliant. I’ve even had to start buying him real tools recently because his toy tools aren’t cutting him for it anymore. He can’t actually use a plastic screwdriver to help me install something, so now he has his own set of small stubby screwdrivers.
An important part of being a kid(boy or girl) in America is growing up with an appreciation and a respect of firearms and knives. Speaking strictly of knives, he owns his own wood pocket knife, a wood multitool, and a real Buck knife(Buck Bantam to be exact). We practice knife safety daily, and he is only allowed to use the two wood tools unsupervised, and the Buck knife only when I am helping him. However, he also knows that at any point if they are used improperly they go away for at least a week. He has never lost the use of any of them though, because we talked about holding the knife point down, not running, cutting away from you and more.
My biggest fear with raising my son, and son to come this way is school. School is going to try to slow them down, and not let them get dirty, and be boys.
http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a32858/drugging-of-the-american-boy-0414/ (Editors note: I have read and cited this excellent piece on several occasions)