Sunday, June 29, 2008

What have we taken from our children?



Brigid has a post up regarding the toys of our youth. How we played as children, how we managed to survive all the things children are warned from these days.

What have we done to our youth? Have we short changed them?
She has a good point... and it started the wheels of time spinning in my head.

I started thinking about my ow
n youth....
Growing up on a farm, guns were always around. My dad wasn't a shooter, they were just tools like the saws or the International H tractor. It was time to disc a field, so hook up the H. It was time to shoot some woodchucks, so take the Marlin with you. I learned to drive the tractor the same year I learned to carry the rifle. They were tools.... to be used.



I also had a farm pond to play in, but never drowned. Snapping turtles and bull frogs shared the pond with me, as well as some boyhood friends. There was a stream along the edge of the farm too.... maybe twelve feet wide and full of trout. Slippery rocks and deep pools were the norm.... and we all survived on our wits alone without a single adult warning us away.

With shooting, I had the bug early
on. Eleven or twelve I think is the age I got my first firearm. In the same day, from Dad, came an air rifle and a .22 bolt action. The Sheridan air rifle to learn with, and the .22 in reserve when I had proven myself safe. The rifle wasn't hidden away, but stood in the corner of the kitchen with a case of .22's in the closet.

With that air rifle I was King of the farm. No squirrel was safe, no rabbit free, but I never got hurt while walking miles and miles on the dusty tractor paths.
I learned trajectory from watching the 5mm pellet fly after only a few pumps, a
nd I learned ballistics by comparing the results of various velocities and pellet configurations. Dad bought me the special pellets two boxes at a time.... 500 more shots to fire.

It only took
a few months to graduate to free use of the .22. Learning safety and marksmanship in the boy scouts helped, and that merit badge was the best one I ever earned. With that bolt action Marlin I was the terror of the woodchuck population. With acres of farm land to stalk, the targets numbered in the hundreds, if not thousands. Even the neighbors asked me to hunt their property too, and thin their Marmotas Monax population.

I bought my first scope for that .22 by earning money cleaning stalls for a neighbor. Around our farm I worked without pay.... because it was part of earning your keep. For cash, I worked for other people. Dad got us what we
needed, but wanted things were treated differently. He figured I needed to learn to handle guns, but didn't need a scope. That was my problem. Just like he bought me my first Snap On hand tools, but I was on my own for air tools.

How many kids today have this freedom to grow, to learn? What video game teaches respect and self reliance?

When I was in grade school I took an old Winchester to school as part of a display. We were studying western expansion, and all the students had to choose a topic. Naturally I choose weapons. The ancient Winchester Pump action was arrayed next to a bow and some arrows I had made by hand, displayed on a deer hide borrowed from one of the farm herd. (In fact, the deer didn't need it any more, as most of him was in our freezer). Alongside these implements of destruction were lined up knives and axes... In School. Nobody got hurt, learning was going on, and I got an 'A' on the project.

Later, in junior high, I took in a shotgun. No, I didn't terrorize the school, murder my classmates, or even threaten a teacher. I used it in wood shop as a form for a fitted case, my semesters shop project. The shotgun stayed in the assistant principles office till I needed it, then I carried it to class with me for use. He insisted I didn't bring any shells in with it... but that was the extent of the safety worries. He left his office unlocked and didn't care if he was there when I came to get it.

I'm not ancient... not a doddering old bugger telling stories from dusty archives.
I'm middle aged, and a father, and I work with kids all the time. None may do what I did as a child, without being arrested and kicked out of school.

What have we allowed to be taken from our children? What have we done to them? More importantly... can we turn it around?

I'd like to see kids allowed to be kids again..... and allowed to grow up into good people with common sense again.

Is it too late?


3 comments:

kdzu said...

These two fine ladies have said it more eloquently than I, but I must say that there are still places where common sense is still taught.......
if not learned. Mostly in rural areas.....farming areas.... where youngsters are taught to work and it's value.
The downward spiral will continue until people decide that the nanny state is an unnatural and harmful state and exist today only as a vehicle of plunder (read The Law).

We used to play mumble-de-peg (sic) at school with pocket knives. Even some of the girls played and were better than some of the boys. No one was ever hurt except the blowhard who was trying to cut his cigarette (school was not a no smoking area, in those days) dropped from his mouth, with a hawk bill knife held in his pocket before it hit the ground. Sliced his thumb really good. Got a bandage wrapped around it and sent back to class.......with his knife.

pat houseworth said...

That America is gone, and probably will never return. The same folks that worship Obama Hussain will never let it return....the majority of kids have been ruined by MTV and single parent households. They will never-ever be allowed to return to the days of our youth....the nanny state will see to that.

DJK said...

Sad.