Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Five Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do.

I can't take credit for the title of today's post. My sister actually shared this link on Facebook the other day and I was intrigued. Gever Tully; 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do.  Go ahead and click on that link and watch the video...it's short, only ten minutes long. (FYI - If you've never been on TED.com there are soooo many great videos you could watch for hours.)

I'll wait. 
So, what did you think of Gever Tulley? 

(From TED.com) Gever Tulley writes the best TwittersJust landed my paraglider in an empty field behind Santa 8arbara. ... Making amazing tshirts with a laser cutter at the maker faire in austin. ... Washing fruit, putting sheets on bunkbeds, and grinding up aluminum foil in a cheap blender ... Updating the school blog, trying to figure out how many cubic feet of air are in a 5 gallon cylinder at 200 PSI. ... Trying to figure out if the tinker kids are going to be able to get molten iron from magnetite sand ...
A software engineer, Gever Tulley is the co-founder of the Tinkering School, a weeklong camp where lucky kids get to play with their very own power tools. He's interested in helping kids learn how to build, solve problems, use new materials and hack old ones for new purposes. He's also a certified paragliding instructor.

I was pretty impressed by Mr. Tulley by his short video. Okay, if you didn't watch the video, here's the gist. Tulley says that our culture has gone went a bit crazy with the child safety regulations. Packaging warnings can get kind of absurd and our culture has gotten to the point where we have protected our children for so long that when they do come across something dangerous they will get hurt because they've not learned how to control their environment. Playing with dangerous things can help children become creative, confident and help them be in control of the world around them. 

As I was watching this video I got to thinking how these 5 dangerous things did or did not play a role in my childhood and also my boys. 

1. Play with Fire - I do admit I AM the Pyromaniac of my family. I grew up  in an old farmhouse with a wood burning stove that had to be checked multiple times during the day. Inevitably first thing in the morning the fire was usually dead. Being the oldest I became pretty darn good at building a fire. I bragged a lot during my teen and college years that I could build a fire better than most of the guys I knew (probably the reason I didn't date much either!) 

The boys and I have played with fire too. Occasionally when the weather is decent and the wind isn't blowing too hard we'll build a fire but I really haven't allowed Yip and Yap a lot of freedom around the fire pits. Not that I don't trust them, but the environment we live in now (Kansas) is so very different from home (Indiana) I don't feel confident building a fire here with the dry conditions and high winds. But I guess that's good fear I have from growing up with fire. I realize what my environment is like and I'm not going to be foolish enough to start a grass fire...they're pretty scary. 

2. Own a Pocket knife - I remember getting a pocket knife when I was a kid and then crying my eyes out when I lost it. I love to carve! Before I had kids I carved little figures and sticks off the ground, I have lots of scars on my hands where my knives have slipped...I survived. I've always wanted to try carving with a chainsaw....yep, just what I need a chainsaw bear in the front yard! (Not really, I just want to try it) Like Tully says a knife can be a powerful tool and with some guidance and rules it can be a great learning experience for kids. I hadn't really given it much thought until watching this video but Yip and Yap probably are ready for a pocket knife. When I mentioned it to my mom she promptly volunteered Grandpa and uncles to buy them their first pocket knives for Christmas morning. Wonder what kind of photos I'll have to share on Dec. 26? 

3. Throw a Spear - At first I kind of shrugged this one off. I've never thrown a spear but really this one isn't so much about throwing a spear as it is about throwing something. I grew up with a big woods that I would often go wander on my own or with my sisters as kids.  And I can remember a little ditch that occasionally had water running through, where we spent a lot of time. We'd throw rocks across the ditch and throw sticks. I don't ever remember throwing stuff in a manner of "playing war" like I see my boys do but I remember the joy of throwing stuff just to throw it and see where it would go. As Tully says, throwing builds a child's visual acuity and problem solving skills. My boys throw stuff ALL. THE. TIME. They are forever throwing ropes or sticks or green tomatoes! I think they've got this one covered. 

4. Deconstruct Appliances - I admit I've never done this. I think this is much more a boy thing. Really, I never even wanted to. I hadn't thought Yip and Yap had had this experience but then  DR reminded me that yeah, all three of them tore apart the VCR when it stopped working last year. Mostly because when they asked DR how it worked he answered, "Little men live inside and make it work." So of course they had a great time proving their dad wrong! I love when Tully says in this part of the video, "a sense of know ability, things are knowable. Might not understand all of it but they know they are capable of understanding it." As I was telling my mom about this video I told her that our OLD tv was just about to die and that I'll let the boys tear it apart when it's finally gone. Yip, who I didn't think was actually listening to me, whooped with joy at this revelation and wants to know exactly when the TV is his to examine! 

5. Drive a Car - When I was growing up I learned early to drive a truck, a stick thank you very much. Not so much because my dad thought I needed the experience but because he needed an extra driver. I was the oldest on a 40 acre farm remember. Mom had my younger brothers and sisters so as soon as my feet could work the pedals I was expected to drive the cattle feed to the barn or bring the corn seed to where Dad was in the fields. In this respect I wish my boys had a 40 acre farm to drive around on. Though when we lived in Illinois, and the boys were 4 or 5, DR would get home and the boys would meet him at the road and drive down the lane and behind the house on his lap, about 1/5 mile. Boy did they love that!! 

I really enjoyed Tully's talk and it gave me a kind of parental shove and helped me re-examine what kind of things DR and I have done or are doing with the boys. Yip and Yap are 8 and that begins a neat age for boys. I think that allowing them some freedoms to test their limits, without being encased in bubble wrap, will help them become creative and confident. 

After watching this video I went over to Amazon and searched Gever Tully and he has a book called 

50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do that I'm going to order. 

Because I never want to be this mom



  1. I will never forget the day Kendal, our oldest was mortified to see Hannah, our youngest climb up the slide, not the steps, but the actual slide. It would have never occurred to her to do such a thing. I'd like to think I am a kind of middle of the road mom who lets her girls explore and try things. What puts my hair on end, though, is when we go to town; the girls have NO COMMON SENSE about traffic. Why would they living out here where you are more likely to be run over by a cow than a car? I have some pretty high stress moment memories of trying to cross the "Scramble Light" at Ball State my first week or so of university life. It totally freaked me out to see so many people and so many cars in one spot because I, too, grew up in the only house on the country road. It's a crazy world some days, but I do love a good fire ;-)

    1. I agree about the traffic!! When my boys were younger we'd go to Wolcott of all places and they had no traffic sense.

  2. Such a challenge finding the balance in parenting isn't it? I like that we live out in the bush so the kids can explore and piddle and build. I do worry about them when they do enter the big city just like the above comment.

    1. Rural does seem to be more conducive to exploring and a bit of danger than city life. It is hard to find that balance though to get kids acclimated to both city and rural life. It's a harder balance to find.


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