I so agree with this guy on our strange "safety at all cost" mentality. I'm surprised we haven't started wrapping children in bubble wrap and only giving them soft food until they are 12!
So in addition to Gever Tulley's list of dangerous things kids should do, here is my list:
By cook I do not mean no-bake cookies. I mean using the cutting board and knives, stove and oven and grill. Kids should be involved in the whole process of bringing food to the table from planting seeds and harvesting vegetables to prepping them and serving them. If we had animals you'd better believe they'd be processing meat with us too!
2. Use tools.
The other day our art teacher walked in with her table easel in her arms rather than with it's handle because the handle had broken. So, while Meg was having her lesson, Israel got the box of screws, screwdrivers and wood glue and repaired her easel. Easy as pie. I didn't help him either.
The hinge on my cabinet in the kitchen was broken and it was hanging off the top hinge looking rather pitiful. Israel and Luc, power tools in hand repaired it. Gana and I didn't help them this time either.
Something recently ate my watermelon--just a baby one on the vine. Israel with sledge hammer, cable ties and garden netting created a cage around it to keep the birds and squirrels away. He did this by himself also.
Maybe you don't turn to your eight and nine year olds to do household repairs. But why not? They can figure it out. And they beam with pride at the praise I liberally heap on them--my manly little men!
3. Coast down our hill on the tricycle, go UP the slide and other "dangerous" play.
We have quite a hill in our backyard. The kids get on the tricycle or worse, the wagon, and let sail, nearly crashing into the fence every time. Everyone is still in one piece.
When we go to the playground I let them play without me telling them how to do it. They aren't allowed to impede anyone trying to go DOWN the slide, but as long as the coast is clear you may climb up, over, around, swing on your stomach, or dig a hole to China.
4. Run their own bath water.
Sounds silly, I know, but I know moms who run their kids bath or shower way past the time the kids are capable of doing so on their own. Once they know the difference between the hot and the cold and how to operate the controls, they are on their own for taking their own showers. (But, if you come out not quite clean enough you'll have to do it again!)
5. Play with sling shots.
Yes, my boys have sling shots. No, no one has lost an eye.
Recently I was at the park with a friend and there was a flight of steps we had to negotiate around a fountain. I asked Israel to carry her stroller (laden with the lunch and diaper bag) up the stairs. No problem. It was slow going, but he was doing it. My sweet friend felt terrible! "I'll help him!" And she started after him. I had to stop her! She insisted that it was heavy and cumbersome. Indeed it was. But, I maintained, "It's good for boys to do difficult things. After all, you want to raise them to be men." For Israel to accomplish it on his own--though it take him a struggle and bang against his shins, empowered him and fed his chivalry. For me to intervene to "help" would have only communicated that I didn't believe he could do it on his own.
It's good for our kids to do things that are "too hard." It's good for them to be stretched and creative and free. More and more the world needs people who can think outside the box, are not afraid to take risks and don't mind breaking a few "rules."