Saturday, January 10, 2009

Six-Year-Old Drives Family Car

I guess this news story circulated everywhere, about the six-year old who stole the family car to try and drive to school after he missed his bus.

What I find infuriating about the story is the officials' response: charging the parents with child endangerment, and confiscating both children to put them into protective custody.

Seriously? Is that what we've come to? I'd like to point out that Bill Waterson depicted something similiar in Calvin and Hobbes. Should Calvin have been taken from his parents and put in protective custody?

My father, when he heard the story, was equally furious about the subject. He said that when he heard about the story, he saw himself in the little boy, recounting a time when he got into his parent's fridge to make himself a cake because he figured he could make a cake. It ended poorly (although not life-threateningly).

My mother, on the other hand, was on the side of child services, thinking it's better to err on the side of caution--even if that means taking children away from their parents. She says this even though her own car keys are within reach. If she was doing laundry or doing one of the many tasks that take her out of eyesight of her children, could one of us have stolen one of the cars if we thought it fit?

Of course, quickly, the bugaboo arose again: Grand Theft Auto. The six-year-old had learned how to drive from Grand Theft Auto. And that's an adult game! The child could have equally learned how to drive from a racing game (which are currently rated E for Everyone; look for 'driving' to become a T rating activity). Never mind that--letting your child play adult video games is probably now part of the case of "child endangerment."

It reminds me of earlier in the week. My little sister (who is now around 11) was trying to make something out of plaster with my mother. She insisted on doing it herself, and she ruined the plaster--it set before they had a chance to make the art project. And my mother was furious! She had ruined the plaster, obviously. Why hadn't she let my mother do it?

My dad was unhappy. He kept telling my mother, "She has to be given permission to fail." That sentence has stuck with me. "It has to be alright for her to fail."

My dad was happy about this six-year-old. He said with a grin, "I want to hire that kid! I want him working for me!"