A Boys First Knife

Laner

Hummingbird
Gold Member
My son turned 5 during this pandemic. We had moved out of the city and to my farm to wait out the madness.

In the first days, we chose a grove of cottonwoods to build a treehouse. The grove was a mess of tangled willows and blackberry bush, thistles grew thick as my wrists and cottonwood branches lay around the brush tangled and broken.

The first day we sharpened my small hatchet and home made machete and went to work. It took us all afternoon to hack our way into the grove and touch the trees for the first time. The 3 brush piles from that day were 5 feet tall. It was brutal work for a 5 year old, but he did it. When we made it to the trees we took a long break, ate some moose and drank some water. He said to me, "you are the best dad in world, not many boys have a dada like you". I looked away to hide my tear.

The next three afternoons we hacked and cut down the brush. Kept piling it up. Each evening we had a bonfire, and I made sure to tell who ever was present that this fire was partly from his hard work. I told him to be proud, and that the fire keeping us warm that late March evening was thanks to his blood and sweat.

The treehouse went up. He helped me draw and weld the brackets. He passed me tools, and was sure to learn the names of the materials. The day we put down the floor, my son, my wife and I sat up there and experienced his beaming pride together, as a family.

We landscaped together. He learned to hoe out the weed roots. He found a young cherry blossom tree that had been strangled and pulled to the ground by the blackberries. We cleared out around it, cut a stake with the axe and tied it up straight with some woven grass. In the next days, it blossomed.

We moved back into the city last week. Instantly his attitude changed. His daily outfit of cowboy hat and rubber boots are gone. He looks bored. His emotions are more feminine. He no longer does his nightly lock up with me - which was his most proud ritual. Locking the gates and our evening chat with our neighbor as they did the same. I can feel his sense of duty is slightly lost.

I feel that this is the right time to give him his first knife. I bought him a nice little Helle boys knife with a leather sheath. I will give it to him this weekend when we go out to the farm again.

I want to create a moment, a ritual of sorts. Something that he will never forget, and something that he will pass on to his son. I haven't chose my words, but I want to give this to him in the grove of trees he helped clear. I would love to hear of other men's experience in this ritual.
 

Leonard D Neubache

Owl
Gold Member
I've been taking my oldest out shooting regularly and he loves it but it's also an important chance to teach him the gravity of risk.

There is a rough order of events that make up the entire activity that begin from the time the guns are taken out of the safe and end when the guns go back. I take pride that every time we go out I conspicuously hold back an instruction and see if he does it naturally, forgets, or pauses and asks. He rarely forgets a step or a safety rule (never life endangering), no matter how excited he is, but he does pause sometimes.

"What now."

"What do you think?"

"(Answer)?"

"Very good."

It's gotten to the point where I almost never have to correct him on anything or remind him of a step. His mind is getting sharper and so are his skills while my mind and and skills are getting harder to keep sharp with age. It's a regular reminder that the baton has to be inevitably passed down the line. None of us will be around forever, but the things we teach God willing will carry on through the ages.
 

Hypno

Crow
I think ritual is important. More important is you are teaching him to do things and have pride of accomplishment.

I read something by a psychologist somewhere that you should not tell a child that you are proud of him but rather that he should be proud of himself. Both are good, but the latter reinforces that it was his accomplishment and that he should seek no one’s validation other than himself.

I raise my son in the city, but we took every chance we could to go to parks and take hikes, climb trees, build things etc. He also played sports, and I was the coach of his teams. Later, I volunteered as a referee, and he asked to be one also., Which it which he did. So those are manly things you can do in the city.

The other thing I would recommend mend that you do is read to your son. At his age, the boxcar children is very good. It’s about being self-sufficient. In a year or two, the Hardy boys are excellent. You can find a couple of these on audio cd ROM. The narrator does different voices for the different characters. When you read to your son, it’s a lot more fun if you doDifferent voices. It’s a little bit more work, and the reading goes slower, but it’s a lot more fun. It sounds pretty basic, but the Hardy boys are the kind of book that a young boy will read in his bed with a flashlight and stay up late. It’s the kind of book that can create a lifelong interest in reading, and improve his vocabulary and self-sufficiency when it comes to academic matters.
 

Laner

Hummingbird
Gold Member
Good point on being proud.

Sometimes I wonder if a father's presence keeps his son from a certain amount of self sufficiency. We should be trusting of his abilities as fathers, and let them make mistakes, but I still think the security of having us there is significant.

Give them a mission for the day. Protect. Observe. Boys love this.

I will pick up Boxcar Children for him. We have our annual summer month long camping road trip coming up. 6000km this year and he has to entertain himself in the truck. No screens. These books seem perfect.

I also have my uncles Hardy Boy's books from when he was a kid. They are at my parents place, and I read a few chapters to him this past Christmas to see if he was ready. He sat enraptured, eyes wide as saucers. So this might be the summer for Hardy Boys bedtime stories in the tent.
 

Hypno

Crow
The old Hardy boys are better than the new ones. They’ve come out with revised edition’s a few times for two reasons. First, to dumb down the vocabulary. More recently, to remove stereotypes like Chinese laundries in black housekeepers
 
I grew up on a farm, lots of work, lots of play. Now I have six kids in a small town. I do my best to take the kids out to the country, but it is a struggle.
 

Laner

Hummingbird
Gold Member
This past weekend I gave me son his first knife. It also happens to be his first real 'tool' that is all his.

I also bought a piece of off cut leather as well as an old belt buckle small enough to fit him. I punched the belt and put the knife on it. Then I wrapped it in some cloth and called him over for a walk.

We walked to the grove of cottonwoods that he had helped clear. I took a stump and put a hand on his shoulder. His eye contact was locked. I told him that his hard work and smart decisions helped to shape this grove, and that he should be very proud. And that I was proud. He was now beaming. I unwrapped the belt and knife and handed it to him, showing him how to unsnap it from its sheath, and how to hold it. I showed him the craft of the blade, that it was made in Norway, and that the men who made it had the same Norse blood as his ancestors.

I helped him with his belt, and showed him how to put on the sheath through the belt, and lock the belt buckle. He seemed to stand an inch taller, and his eyes and smile were radiant. We went through his Warrior Kid Codewarriorkidcode.png, which we almost have memorized. I then showed him a good whittling stick and went through the rules of the knife. I then let him whittle til his hand hurt.

I also bought him the first two Boxcar Kids books. I just got them yesterday, and yesterday afternoon before dinner we started. He was hooked before chapter one was out. We read 5 chapters before dinner, and 3 more before bed. He can be a little drag ass doing his bed time routine, but last night he was a on it. So thanks for that recommendation. Its a nice change from reading Jocko for the 20th time, or Norse myths for what would have been 4 times in a row.
 

Oberrheiner

Pelican
We moved back into the city last week. Instantly his attitude changed. His daily outfit of cowboy hat and rubber boots are gone. He looks bored. His emotions are more feminine. He no longer does his nightly lock up with me - which was his most proud ritual. Locking the gates and our evening chat with our neighbor as they did the same. I can feel his sense of duty is slightly lost.
So, what do you conclude from this ? :)
 

Laner

Hummingbird
Gold Member
So, what do you conclude from this ? :)
Cities can be good places to learn, be around friends, lots of activities, the beaches, the seawalls, etc. They can hone a sharpness that a country kid would never have. But is that even a good thing? I love the hustle, but at what cost. Honest ways of making money mean harder earned dollars, but probably a better soul.

But cities are also a good place to be alone. Being in strict routines that center around being in your safe apartment above the streets gives a false sense of community. Both our neighbors are AirBnB hotels. Some are nice, others I would avoid at all costs. They might be decent people, but I will never know. So in the meantime I trust some flimsy wood and a deadbolt for protection.

Having a street smart son, with the practical skills of a farm boy just may be the best idea of an upbringing I can imagine. I just don't know if weekends at the farm are enough. I will probably look at bringing him to work with me here one day a week so he gets at least 2 or 3 days on the farm to deprogram him somewhat.
 
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