A few days ago, a five year old kid who called 911 when the mother was choking made the news. What is so unusual about a kid calling to get an ambulance when someone is having a sudden and serious health problem? Nothing, but kid-obsessed Americans managed to make a big deal and front page news out of it.
In kid-obsessed America, anything a kid does, no matter how usual, is labeled as adorable and cute. It could not be different in this case. The comments under the news articles were ludicrous: “how adorable”, “so cute”, “most adorable 911 call ever”, “so adorable”, and a thousand more over-sweet adorables. The kid, in fact, did a good job calling for help, but nothing out of ordinary, and nothing more than what should be required from a kid of this age. It was responsible, right, timely, maybe even life saving, very well done, but neither adorable nor cute. This kind of action should be required from a kid of five as a standard, not praised to the skies as if it were a superhuman achievement.
All kids should be trained what to do in case of an emergency. The earlier, the better, for the kids themselves, and for their immediate environment. Calling for help in case of an emergency is essential, and this kind of training should not be omitted by the excuse that the child is too young. If it is indeed too young to know the digits, or even to know how to press a pre-programmed button to make a phone call, it should be able to run to the nearest neighbor and to seek the adult’s attention and help.
I was trained to address emergencies much earlier than at the age of five, and all kids around me were taught it as well. It was more difficult than in America because there were separate phone numbers for each service, like ambulance, firefighters, and police, not a general one which simplifies the training by a great deal. Still, it was not difficult for an average child to learn. I was also trained where the main valves for water as well as where the electric fuses were located in the house. I would not be able to turn them off by myself, but I was required to bring a neighbor to do it, and show him or her where they are located. I was taught what kind of emergency required what kind of action. I did not die from knowledge overload. I did not have a prospective emergency trauma either. My parents, in turn, felt safer when leaving for work, even if elderly relatives were at home at that time.
All other parents I knew efficiently rehearsed emergency situations with their young kids, as well as taught them basic responsibilities. At the age of five, kids were actually left at home or outside for some time and required to watch younger children: their siblings, cousins, or neighbors’ kids. All of them did it skillfully and responsibly. No immature or irresponsible acts ever happened. With proper training, kids are perfectly able to do it.
Americans greatly underestimate their children’s learning abilities, especially if it comes to useful things, and in fact, treat the kids as if they were mentally deficient. They place their offspring on pedestals and worship, instead of teaching them useful, life-related skills. Their kids are allowed to learn to operate devices like video games, TV sets, and other electronic fun gadgets, that require some minimum of skills to use, but the precious snowflakes would, in the obsessed parents’ opinion, suffer an irreversible trauma if they were taught something as simple and useful as how to operate a washing machine.
If a kid learns how to operate a computer, or a TV set, it must be able to learn how to call 911, or how to turn a washer on. These basic skills should be strictly required, not treated as extraordinary or heroic, and published as front page news with the laughable label of “adorable”.