Let the Kids Mow the Lawns

President Donald Trump greets Frank Giaccio, 11, of Falls Church, Va., as Giaccio mows the Rose Garden’s lawn at the White House, in Washington, Sept. 15, 2017. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Last week the country got a heart warming story out of the White House, a rare feat in any political age. Frank “FX” Giaccio, an entrepreneurial minded eleven-year-old with his own lawn care business sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking if he could mow the lawn of the executive residence.

On Friday the kid got his shot, and it made national news. What a cool moment, and I’m sure the notoriety will be good for Frank’s business:

But since we can’t just have a nice story about a hard-working kid doing something cool, of course the internet ruined things. Steven Greenhouse, a former labor reporter for the New York Times, objected:

Just to put the American Academy of Pediatrics in context, they also recommended that parents counsel their children after Trump won the election lest they suffer from long-term psychological trauma.

When people objected to Greenhouse’s position, he accused them of being “snowflakes.”

Ridiculous.

Lawnmowers, when used properly, are perfectly safe. Sure, accidents can happen, but you don’t have to be using a lawnmower to get hit by calamity. Kids get hit by cars walking home from school too. Does that mean we have to chauffeur them to and from our schools every day?

Maybe we should just put the kids in bubble wrap and ensconce them in their rooms with a supply of video games lest the little darlings get hurt by doing perfectly normal things in an imperfect world.

I don’t like the direction our society is heading on things like this. Once upon a time I was a 5th grader with a paper route. I delivered around 100 papers a day, seven days a week (including holidays), starting at 4:30 in the morning. I’d finish my route, eat some breakfast, and then get ready for school. I also had to do monthly collections for those Minot Daily News subscribers who weren’t paying for their paper directly.

A few times I slept in and was late with the papers. Sometimes I didn’t get my collections done on time. When those things happened I got in trouble. When I got paid I felt rich (relative to my friends). I saved my paper route money over the years – I had that route until I was a junior in high school – and eventually bought my first truck with the money.

I learned lessons about hard work. Being responsible and accountable for my failures. The joy of owning something you earned yourself.

But in America, in 2017, the idea of a 10 year old wandering the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, sometimes in frigid temperatures and waist-deep snow, is anathema to most.

That’s a shame. Our kids are missing out on something important as a result, and the consequences for our society aren’t good.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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