Readers! Here’s a lovely little essay from Bree Ervin, author of the blog Think Banned Thoughts (which, apparently, she does). — L.
Making a Point about Toothpicks by Bree Ervin
My husband and I are very picky about the preschools we chose for our children.
The preschool our daughter attends has a merry-go-round which they had to fight the state to keep, a ridiculously tall slide, and a science room with real animal skeletons, bird’s nests, owl pellets and some safe chemicals like baking soda and vinegar for the kids to do science “spearmints” with.
We knew when we enrolled her that she could come home with skinned knees, bruises and epic tales of adventure and learning!
But then, something happened. They got soft. They got scared. They stopped letting the kids go out in bad weather and made them have quiet time inside instead. They made them wash their hands so many times a day that my daughter’s hands started to crack. And I have yet to hear about them conducting a single experiment in the science room.
I was coping with all of this and writing it off as “the sad, new, child-proofed America” when the latest assault on my child’s development came home with her.
They made sculptures at school. The materials they were given were marshmallows and… Q-tips.
Not toothpicks, like back in the day. Nope, Q-tips. Because we wouldn’t want anyone to poke their finger or get a splinter, right!?!
I can only imagine the frustration of trying to stab a marshmallow with a Q-tip and run it through. At least they didn’t do away with the potentially teeth-rotting marshmallows as building materials! I’m glad there is at least one truly dangerous item left in the school. But ridding the school of toothpicks is ridiculous. Our kids need to be learning how to navigate a world that is filled with sharp edges, pokey things, splinters, objects that will trip them up, make them fall, skin their knees and break the occasional bone.
Life is not all padded edges and air-bags. Life is tough, and if we keep taking away things like toothpicks, our kids are going to become soft mushy little teens who become soft mushy little adults who wither at the slightest hint of danger or discomfort.
If toothpicks are so dangerous, how are we ever going to convince my daughter to pick up a scalpel and become a surgeon?