In the interest of practicing what I preach, I've been thinking about gettting my two older boys their own jackknives this summer. They might get cut, or not. But either way, they might learn to respect that some things require extra thought and consideration to use. They might do some independent exploration. They can learn some responsibility.
So, I thought that I would talk with them about the possibility.
I said, "I have been thinking that maybe you should learn some responsibility", insert eyeroll here. "I was thinking that, if you can demonstrate that you know the difference between tools and toys, I might be able to buy you a sort of tool". Now I had their attention.
I continued, "Toys are multi-purpose things that you can be creative and use in many different ways, where tools have a specific type of use. When you are done using a tool for its intended purpose - you clean it and put it back where it belongs".
They are still wide-eyed. "Mom, what kind of tool are you thinking about?" They are nearly jumping out of their table spots now.
"Well," I said, "I'm thinking that you may be old enough to own a jackknife - but, you'd have to show me that you know how to use a tool first".
My middle child jumps out of his seat "Oh, mom, then you could buy us one of those things".
"You know, one of those things, the flat wall-like thing with the target so we can practice throwing the knives and they can stick in it!?!"