Swiss Army Knife – Child’s Play

Swiss Army Knife

Swiss Army Knife

Ah the Swiss army knife. The ultimate utility tool. Knife, bottle opener, corkscrew, tweezers, screwdriver, pry bar, saw, stick sharpener, bug dissection tool… The list of uses is endless.

I have had one close at hand for as long as I can remember. I was given one as a kid and in my list of life’s big events, I think it ranks in the top 10.

That Swiss Army Knife meant a number of things. Most of which I didn’t realize at the time but recently, I was afforded the opportunity to reflect on just how important that knife was in my growth into adulthood. It was the first stepping stone toward independence, feeling trusted and logical consequence.

Let me explain further. I had a very short conversation the other day with a neighbour about my daughter and her pocket knife.

“Hey Keith, do you realize that your daughter has been using your Swiss Army Knife in the forest?”

“Actually it is her Swiss Army Knife and yes I am quite aware”

“Do you think that is safe?”

“Just as safe as it was when I was twelve”

With that, I got a quizzical look but it got me thinking, what are all the good things that came out of having my very own pocket knife at my disposal when I was a kid?

Independence: Owning a Swiss Army Knife of your own, meant that you didn’t have to ask your dad for his or to have to ask permission to use the household one. You had the freedom to take it out and use it whenever necessary. Believe it or not, I even remember using it in class during Chemistry to fix some piece of science apparatus in about grade 11. Can you imagine doing that today?

Trust: It meant that your parents trusted you to responsibly use this sharp object without doing inappropriate damage to people, places or things. They also trusted that you were responsible enough not to impale yourself… too often.

Logical Consequence: Knives can be very unforgiving. Use it inappropriately or incorrectly and chances are you are going to get cut. Flesh wounds  are a great learning experience, especially if they end up with a trip to emergency for stitches.

Nowadays, if you give a kid a knife… It is a cardinal sin. A tool with which a felony is sure to be committed but with that being said, I have given my eldest daughter one anyhow. Actually she has had it for about 2 summers but now she has free reign over its use.

She uses it for everything. It is an essential tool in her outdoor activity and she has been very responsible with it but why do so many parents think that modern day children should hot have access to such benign tools of the childhood experience.

It begs the questions

  1. Since when are kids incapable of being safe with inherently “dangerous” things?
  2. How are kids ever going to learn how to handle “dangerous” items if they never get the opportunity?
  3. If you can’t trust a twelve year old with a pocket knife, at what age can you trust them?
  4. Why wouldn’t you teach a child how to make sure potentially dangerous things, do not become dangerous?

We are raising social eunuchs, incapable of handling any kind of danger or risk. If we continue to “sterilize” our children’s world in the name of keeping them “safe” then what is the point of living? If we deny our children any rights of passage into adulthood which reach beyond the safety bubble we create for them, they will forever live as children in the eyes of society.

Simple risk activities and items can mean so much in the growth of your child, let them live a little. Even if it means a cut a bruise or an abrasion on occasion it is worth it in your child’s growth into an adult.


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