Michael Pearl – Three Year Olds Need Toolboxes

Michael Pearl – Three Year Olds Need Toolboxes August 26, 2020

Screen cap from You Tube

This has to be one of the most strange pieces of writing in the Sept/Oct issue of No Greater Joy magazine. I would say this does read like something written by Michael Pearl. The story illustrations a couple of things, the expectation that kids are little adults. The Pearls also love putting children at risk, letting them do things that are so not age appropriate, and then claiming what a virtue it is.

“For his third birthday, Lincoln received a toolbox—a real toolbox that any man would covet, one that could last throughout his entire life. Lincoln takes his toolbox very seriously. To his way of thinking, a man (three-year-old) is defined by his tools and the things he accomplishes with them. When he received the toolbox, someone visiting asked him if it was a birthday gift. He displayed an incredulous look and exclaimed, “No, it’s for tools.” He thinks, “How could anyone not know that tools are a necessity, a way of life? Birthday presents are frivolous, passing fancies.” So fortunately, they had also given him a $15 inflatable, air-powered rocket from Costco. Now that was a birthday gift, the kind of thing that after the second launch the wind changes and it gets stuck in a tree. Oh well, it lasted most of his birthday. Nothing to get upset about.”

Well, that’s rather strange! I could see getting a child of that age who is interested in things like hammering and sawing a child sized tool box with safe child sized tools, or a play one filled with plastic pretend tools. This anticipation of the man that the 3 year old will be seems premature and laden with crazy masculinity issues for the dad and Michael here.

My son wanted a real sword and pirate ship for his third birthday but settled for a plastic sword and an inflatable pirate ship, both that lasted much longer than the party. What someone wants is not always the thing most appropriate for them.

Perhaps I’m overthinking this and it’s in anticipation of future tools. Even if you did it like some sort of male hope chest thing, bought the tool box with the aim of providing a shiny new tool as a present on each holiday until he had a full set approaching adulthood. It’s just odd.

“But tools are a different matter. For two days Lincoln has scavenged the property, locating any tool that was left lying around. He even found several that had been lost in the grass or discarded because they were broken. The next day Lincoln was hovering over his toolbox, managing his horde of scrounged implements, when I walked up to talk to his daddy. Dad looked down and saw the little mechanic rearranging an old, rusty window glass scraper he had found that contained a razor blade at the end. Dad immediately bent down and snatched up the tool, saying, “You can’t have that; its dangerous.” Always (at least until then) compliant Lincoln said, “No, it’s mine.” Dad responded with a dismissive final word: “Its sharp on the end and it could cut you bad.”

Scary on several levels. First, a child still considered a toddler is apparently wandering unsupervised hither and yon on a large piece of property scares me. I do not care how remote, isolated, lacking all predators your property is. Toddlers should not be outside without some sort of supervision.  This is how so many stories on CNN start off of kids being lost in the woods for days in chilly temperatures that do not always end well.

Second, abandoned tools, sharp and dangerous ones just dropped around the property makes the property dangerous for everyone, not just this poor little child. Imagine tripping around that property barefoot, like Debi Pearl has spoken about being the most healthy, and coming up on that rusty window glass scraper and cutting your foot. Hello tetanus shot and possible infection! Since the Pearls do not believe in vaccination this could be even more tragic. Lockjaw is a terrible way to die.

There’s some discussion following about the child and father squabbling over ownership of the rusty purloined scraper and razor blade before we arrive here:

“What would Dad do? Moments like this are the big deals, the situations where you train them to yield to authority while keeping their hearts. It was a dangerous moment when James, Lincoln’s dad, could have planted a seed of resentment that would form the grain of sand to which other offences (sic) would attach themselves and grow a rock-hard heart beneath the surface until one day his parents say, “What got into that boy? We raised him right; why is he so angry? He acts like we are the enemy. Where did this bitterness come from?”

This is not what causes kids to rebel! It has nothing to do with being forced to give up a dangerous implement to keep a kid from poking his eye out. Kids are not always capable of making those logical leaps that Pearl is about to claim is the difference between ‘training’ and ‘rebellion’

“Then he pointed to his arm where the veins and arteries were visible and, pointing, said, “If another child was here who did not know how to use this tool, he might pick it up and cut his arm; the blood could run out until he died, and you wouldn’t want that to happen, so we need to put this tool up somewhere safe where no one will be hurt by it.” The discussion went a little longer with thorough explanation, and Lincoln understood that Dad was not being selfish in confiscating his tool; he was being cautious of the safety of other little kids who might not be as wise in handling tools.

Lincoln understood, “Dad has my best interest in mind.” A spirit of good will prevailed and Lincoln cheerfully resumed pulling out the drawers and rearranging the pliers, crescent wrench, screw drivers, and rusty whatnots (sic). Don’t mess with a man’s tools or a child’s heart.”

No, no, no, no!!! While it’s good to have a child understand your motives for stopping them engaging in risky behavior it is not the be all and end all of parenting, particularly this failed parenting episode that started with some serious neglect of a toddler. A rising 3 year old is not going to have the reasoning skills to think this way. It’s so unlikely from all known child development benchmarks. Toddlers tend to be, even at three, self focused, no matter how many times one might point out that others have needs too.

The situation this is of sharp objects and broken glass around the property was one of the reasons Kentucky CPS was called on the Naugler family. Here we have in Tennessee the Pearls doing roughly the same thing. Someone that drops tools and old broken objects willy nilly is likely to have dropped nails and broken glass on the property too.

I guess we should be grateful for once Michael isn’t advocating for beating the child, just neglecting him by not supervising him properly.

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 34 years You can read more about the author here.
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