Not That I Want Kids to be Doing This, But…

Bill Frezza, host of the Real kdbrsnyaif
Clear Radio Hour
, sends this to us as a little reminder of what kids are really capable of.

You can watch just 30 seconds to get the point. The rest is more of the same…and more proof that the idea today’s kids can’t even walk to school on their own (“He’d have to cross a street!”), or go three aisles over to get the bananas at the grocery (“Anything could happen!”) is just plain bizarre. – L

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36 Responses to Not That I Want Kids to be Doing This, But…

  1. Peter August 4, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    I drove heavy machinery as a child growing up on a farm. Never anything this heavy, because we didn’t own anything this heavy. If we had it, I drove it. Tractors, combines, road graders; I drove them all. And yes, anything could have happened. For example, we could have finished planting or harvesting the oats, getting the snow off the driveway, or mowing the hay field. Now my friends fret over whether they should let their teenager operate the lawnmower.

  2. Jill August 4, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Look at him, shifting gears like a pro! You go, little kid! (I’ll put aside any qualms about how much he’s being paid to operate heavy earth-moving equipment, and whether or not he’s going to school, and just applaud his mad driving skilz.)
    American children about the same age used to do things like drive McCormick reapers (two plow horses, giant whirling blades. What could go wrong?) and join up to fight for the Confederacy (no age limit for them, unlike the Union Army.)Modern kids are too sheltered, IMO.

  3. Matthew August 4, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    With proper training, some can.

    In my preteen years I helped with wiring on an addition, and working with power tools, like a table saw. The key is safety has to be taught. The fastest way for me to get disciplined was to not wear hearing protection, safety glasses, or pull the fuses and keep them somewhere safe, and test the wires with a meter if working on something electrical.

    Same thing with the lawnmower. No problem with me doing it, but long pants, safety glasses, ear muffs.

  4. Papilio August 4, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    At moments like this I miss that wide-eyed emoticon… Wow!
    By the time I thought, ’30 seconds…’ I was halfway through the video!

  5. bobca August 4, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Fortunately, my children have my wife’s family that make this possible. They live in the mid-west, and own farms, ranches, and an excavation construction company. They have been driving “mules” since they were about 5, and have begun operating other equipment as they got older. A wonderful opportunity.

  6. Gretchen August 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    The poor kid needs some earmuffs.

  7. J- August 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    My grandfathers both dropped out of school in by the 8th grade to go to work to help support the family. My mother’s father volunteered for The Coast Guard at 17 so he wouldn’t get drafted into the Army during WWII and served aboard a sub hunter.

    In the generations before, during the golden age of sail, midshipmen was a rank of trainee sailor who lived aboard US and British navy vessels and studied to be officers. The enlistment age for a midshipman was 12 which was raised to 14 by WWI. The age was not raised to 18 in the British navy until 1955.

    Having lived in rural Indiana and South Dakota, it is expected that the children of farmed and ranchers start doing chores, farm chores, in elementary school. I’ve seen 5th and 6th graders help load feed stocks, detassel corn, and move cattle.

    My grandfather owned a bagel bakery. I operated a bagel machine, 200 lbs dough mixer, and pulled hot bagels out of a raging furnace of brick oven before I was bar mitzvah. I have a buddy whose parents owned a plant nursery and was driving a fork lift, backhoe, and skid loader when I met him in the 7th grade. Such is the normal way of life for the children of small business owners.

    I’m not advocating a repeal of child labor laws, and I don’t intend to send my son off to a textile mill or a coal mine any time soon. But we do seem to forget just what children were capable of doing 100 years ago in America.

  8. BL August 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    I’ve see Amish kids about that age driving horse buggies. Quite well.

  9. SKL August 4, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    And here just today I saw another news story about a mom being handcuffed and charged with child endangering for letting her 7yo walk to the park a half mile away. And some idiot commentator screaming that it was the same as pushing your kid into the middle of a busy street. Sigh.

    So sick of it.

    And people *are* being changed by this. My friend says that she is glad I’m afraid to send my kids alone to the park (afraid I could be arrested etc.). Because she thinks that’s a crazy thing to do in my very nice neighborhood. Ugh.

  10. Silver Fang August 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    This is too awesome for words. I’m sharing this on my social.

  11. Montreal Dad August 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Ok, is this the post when Lenore jumped the shark?!?!?


  12. David DeLugas August 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Today, unfortunately, unless we as parents push back in a unified manner, a child ALLOWED to operate machinery would be charged with a crime, the child would be put in foster care, and those who are to keep children from abuse will have neglected to address complaints and reports of actual abuse! As a practical matter, children not allowed or encouraged to do more than live in a bubble of protection will never know the sense of accomplishment and achievement necessary to live a full and rewarding life. Let’s not cheat our children in the name of protecting them from risks that are not real. Band together with us or another entity (if there is one as we have been unable to find another one).

  13. forsythia August 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    When our kids turned seven, we turned them loose alone at Storyland (park designed for kids in New Hampshire) with a walkie-talkie and a time and place to meet up.

    I did shadow them for a little bit to make sure that they were okay, but let them go about their business – riding the rides, spending their snack money, etc. They not only had a blast, they were treated like royalty by the (mostly Eastern European) staff running the rides! “So Refreshing” said one when we went back for another ride.

  14. forsythia August 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Weird – that comment was meant for the previous link and posted here too … (e-xorcism needed!)

  15. J- August 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    @Montreal Dad

    I think you missed the point a little. I don’t think that she thinks kids should run construction equipment. I think the point that she is making is that the US infantilizes children way too much.

    In the US, the prevailing attitude is if mom doesn’t hold the 7 year old’s hand as she walks him/her to school, the child will get lost and end up dead in a ditch. In China, that 7year old walks to the construction site and works a 60 hour week. Children are a lot more capable than we give them credit for.

    Think about this:

    I started reading the Harry Potter series again. As an adult, IT BLOWS MY MIND THAT HARRY IS ELEVEN YEARS OLD IN THE FIRST BOOK. If you left an 11 year old in a car for 5 min wile running into the CVS, you’d get arrested, and your 11 year old would be checked out by EMT before being released to social services. In The Sorcerers’s Stone, a strange old man drops an 11 year old off at a train station expecting him to make it to a school he’s never been to before. That is after being taken to a street filled with things that regularly explode into flames. No wonder the wizarding world keeps itself secret. Muggle child services would have every wizard parent in prison and every wizard kid with a foster home first time the kid picked up a wand.

  16. hineata August 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    I don’t know, Lenore, there’s nothing like real labour to make a kid appreciate an education. My son in early high school was moaning to my aunt one day about how she was lucky she’d been allowed to leave school when she was twelve. Actually her dad had just made her drop out…he never did see any value to high school… and so she told Boy off for being ungrateful for his opportunities, LOL.

    I think they were both right – Boy was realistic in seeing little value to high school without some kind of real world context/contact, and she was so right that he should be grateful for an education.

    Maybe a balance between what this boy is doing and a western childhood today would be ideal. I was driving tractors at ten. Large machinery should be fine for kids to drive, as long as they have training and they’re working on fairly flat ground… and there are no toddlers in the vicinity!

    For that matter, rolling a tractor is a serious challenge at any age 🙂

  17. Donna August 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    And yet 30 seconds ago some woman sitting next to me panicked because her child might have to walk alone for 20 feet in her sight. We are at one of bungee trampoline things (where they attach bungee cords to you while you jump on a trampoline). I was sitting next to a lady on the side of the group of 4 trampolines away from the entrance – literally 20 feet away from the entrance and in full view. The kid had been waving to her the whole time so KNEW where she was. When her kid’s time was up, she said to her husband “go over there and get her before someone grabs her.” And when he didn’t immediately move, yelled at him in a panicked voice to go.

  18. John August 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    I’ve said this before but in the Philippines, kids as young as 8-years-old are out on the street washing car windows to make some extra cash for their families. These little boys I saw were barefoot on the hot pavement and had such rugged looking feet on them. They could probably walk barefoot on a thistle patch without even flinching! They also had muscular looking calf muscles probably from running up and down the street looking for customers. Typical Americans would look at that and say, “How sad, those children look so abused”. Really? Why is a young child having tough feet and muscular calves a sad thing? Ok, they may come from poor families but how would tough leathery feet and physically fit looking legs serve as a disadvantage to ANYONE? Can we start thinking logically here? Wouldn’t the child being overweight and sedentary be more of a disadvantage to him even if he comes from a well-to-do family? Well, there are plenty of kids like that in the USA but there doesn’t seem to be much of an outcry over it.

    Do kids have paper routes anymore? I realize with the internet and so many news sources online, people don’t subscribe to hardcopy newspapers like they used to but there’s still enough of a demand where newspaper deliveries are needed. But yet I still never see paperboys or papergirls delivering papers anymore. If that still were the case, kids could have the best of both worlds. They could develop strong and tough legs from riding their bikes everyday delivering papers or tough feet from going barefoot and still come from a well-to-do family. But nowadays if somebody saw a child playing outside and running around in the street barefoot they’d probably call Child Protective Services on the parents because after all, the child could step on a nail or a thistle or whatever and develop tetanus and die! You know, what if, what if, what if???? Worst first thinking at its finest!

  19. John August 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    In India, children as young as 6-years-old cross busy streets by themselves and do just fine. In fact, it’s not unusual in India to see a couple of street children as young as 8-years-old cross a very busy street while holding the hand of their younger 4-year-old sibling. NOW I AM CERTAINLY NOT CONDONING OR ENCOURAGING PARENTS TO SHOVE THEIR VERY YOUNG CHILDREN OUT ONTO A VERY BUSY STREET UNATTENDED, but I am just trying to point out that even very young children can learn survival skills on their own and can be capable of negotiating heavy traffic while crossing the street without adult supervision despite of their young age!

  20. hineata August 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    @John – amen to that! My ‘big little’ girl, who was two when we were living in Malaysia, became rather quickly highly alert around traffic, and consequently very good at moving away from vehicles in motion, of which there were a large number where we lived. These days she’s still much better at judging speed and distance of a vehicle coming toward her than I am. Since around the age of six or seven it has been faster and safer for her to cross the road herself than to rely on me, as I grew up in a virtually no-traffic area and still have issues with judging traffic.

  21. hineata August 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    @Donna – do you mean to say you have taken your eyes off of your precious daughter to comment, and are leaving her to the mercy of all those kidnappers who we know hang around ‘bungy’ trampoline events? What is the matter with you? Have the police been called yet? 🙂

  22. martha August 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    Now my daughter has something to work towards! At 1.5, she just got her first official chore, feeding the dog (with some help) twice a day. Loves it. With any luck she’ll be driving the tractor before she hits kindergarden 🙂

  23. common sense August 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    i work on a farm and my kids have driven my car[on the property] and handled machinery since they were big enough to see over the hood and reach the pedals at the same time. this trend towards extending childhood indefinatly will backfire, at some point there won’t be enough “adults” to “handle life”

  24. Donald August 4, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    I’m always amazed at things like this. I’m not amazed that the youth can do this, I’m amazed that so many people are astounded and it smashes their belief that children are helpless morons.

    in 2009 a 16 year old girl sailed the world non stop unassisted. I was an 8 month voyage. Before she left, Australia was up in arms about it. The news was absolutely horrified that she be allowed to do this. Many people tried to get a court order preventing her from trying. Her parents were ostracized.

    When she returned, Australia fell in love with her! People were so astounded that there was even talk of putting her face on some of our currency! The news did a 180 back flip. What an amazing inspiration! She became Australian of the year.

  25. Harrow August 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Lucky little tyke! Sixty years ago kids his age were doing that same job — without the tractor.

  26. J Bu August 4, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    Hm, this link seems to lead me to a story about Obamacare?

  27. Resident Iconoclast August 4, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    The government wants us to froth with moral panic, so we and our kids will accept their Orwellian surveillance and the government’s finger up our rectums.

    Until, that is, it’s time for our children to fight Congress’ limitless wars and imperial delusions. Then, getting their legs blown off for foreign dictators is a risk well worth taking. But walking to school with your friends, in the third grade–well that’s a crime.

    Why don’t we all get together, and tell Congress to stick it where the sun don’t shine? Are we all such losers that we just keep settling for this crap?

  28. Kay August 4, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    This video makes me feel like failure. Well, my twelve year old can drive a lawn tractor and has cut the grass but my nine year old needs to catch up.

    Actually, it’s a great video. It makes me motivated to “do something” about our current culture here in the states. What, I don’t know.

    It’s pretty sad when my nine year old bikes to one of his neighborhood friend’s house, but his same age friend isn’t allowed off his block. Makes me wonder what his parents think of us letting our kid have the roam of the neighborhood.

  29. Sandi August 5, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    Wow! That kid is good! What a workout for him to reach everything, too. I bet he’s good and hungry and not much interested in arguing with his parents when he’s finished.

  30. Paula August 5, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    I am a member of a disney fan forum. Some of the problems that have been brought up by parents include the immorality of a 19 year old girl staying with boyfriends family while boyfriend is having surgery. Can my 18 year old sleep over at girlfriends house and a father who insisted that his 18 year old daughter should sign a form allowing father to have access to medical records. We are now being told that up to 25 should be treated like kids. How did we fight our way to become the dominant species on this planet only to turn into paranoid morons?

  31. Thea August 5, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    I saw this on an HR blog this morning and thought it perfect to share here. Why focusing on safety can be dangerous.

  32. fjord August 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    @SKL Mon Aug 4th 2014 at 1:54 pm

    And here just today I saw another news story about a mom being handcuffed and charged with child endangering for letting her 7yo walk to the park a half mile away. And some idiot commentator screaming that it was the same as pushing your kid into the middle of a busy street. Sigh.

    I read a more detailed description of that episode you are talking about the woman/arrested and from what it said, the kid was at the pool -unaccompanied, the lifeguard went up to talk to the kid and the kid -stranger danger- alarmed ran across two or four lanes of busy traffic to get away from the guy. The LG then proceeded to alert a cop who took the kid home to arrest the woman. now WHO endangered the child?

  33. fjord August 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    @By Thea Tue Aug 5th 2014 at 8:05 am

    That’s a good article. We were discussing the insanity of 15 firemen running across the roof, the total building on lockdown and everyone warned to stay in place for an hour everything stops- crisis alert! …

    Because a mercury thermometer had broken in the hallway.

    I’m. NOt. Exaggerating.

    and I’d like to note that I took my kids to a team sorting event (12yo and 17yo) and they were referred to as “the kids who don’t wear helmets”.

  34. EricS August 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    @fjord: “I read a more detailed description of that episode you are talking about the woman/arrested and from what it said, the kid was at the pool -unaccompanied, the lifeguard went up to talk to the kid and the kid -stranger danger- alarmed ran across two or four lanes of busy traffic to get away from the guy. The LG then proceeded to alert a cop who took the kid home to arrest the woman. now WHO endangered the child?”

    If this is true, then I would say whoever taught the kid “stranger danger” is at fault. That includes parents, friends, teachers, police, the life guard, and the rest of society who instills this kind of mentality to people.

    Strangers are NOT dangerous. But some people are are. And we need to teach our children proper to know the difference. Not just some generic term to confuse them.

    The internet should have a new slogan. “The Internet…making people dumber and dumber since 1993”. lol

  35. vas August 8, 2014 at 5:45 am #

    Lenore, is it a good idea to post links which require login/password to view?


  1. Maggie's Farm - August 5, 2014

    Tuesday morning links

    A Kate Bush update Ten things men want from a relationship  The Magna Carta Plays Boston – Without it we are not what we became Oldest critter in the world What a little kid can do The Pursuit of Happiness And The Kingdom of God