Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Power Fools

How do I explain to my four year old that the toy power tools made for his age group are not going to have the same power as the ones made for his father?

On Sunday, Alexander and I were in the back yard, doing some spring-type work to get the deck, pool and shed ready for the summer. Having received some really cool Home Depot brand power tools for Christmas from his Uncle Mike (a chainsaw and grass trimmer), Alexander was delighted at the chance to bring them outside for this first time this season.

He wasn't out there using them for more than a few minutes before he came up on the deck, crying.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"My chainsaw and trimmer don't work?"

That was strange. I had heard them running while he was cavorting on the lawn with them. "Are you, sure, Alexander? I thought I heard them running."

"No!" he said. "They don't work. The chainsaw doesn't cut through trees. The trimmer doesn't cut grass."

How does one explain to his four year old that his toy power tools, particularly the ones with cutting/blade type action, are not going to work the same as his father's tools? I mean, sure, perhaps 30 or 40 years ago, safety standards being what they were, kids were often handed circular saws, air powered nail guns and other fun paraphernalia that are too dangerous for most adults to handle -- but safety standards have certainly changed, and our society isn't going to hand a four year old a chain saw that actually can cut through tree trunks.

You see, Alexander has always helped out, participated in chores and work around the house -- he's the hardest working four year old I've ever known. In fact, he works harder than many adults I know. He's always been that way, since the first days he could walk. (We actually have a video of him somewhere near the age of 1, carefully emptying the cutlery holder in the dish washer and walking the spoons and forks over to the drawer that he couldn't even see into, with a delighted smile on his face because he was helping Mommy and Daddy)

So, seeing himself as a useful little helper around the house, it's hard to take the wind out of his sails by telling him they don't make actual working power tools for his age group. I still haven't figured out a nice way to break this to him.

So instead, I said: "Okay, son. First thing next Saturday morning, we'll take those defective tools back to the store and get new ones that work."

I at least bought myself another week.

More fool me.

1 comment:

lime said...


his tools are practice tools so he knows how to be safe when he gets the other tools that really chop and trim. ;)

and then there is mr. lime, who has been known to disregard safety standards and put a power drill in the hands of 4 yr olds when he taught the preschoolers at church. yes, he did. everyone in safety goggles and his hands over theirs as they drilled through a stack of 4 tongue depressors.