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Practical freedom tip #432: Teach your children

Part of this week’s wall-building endeavor involved a lawnmower-powered hoist. Like so:

Yeah, it looks cumbersome, but it was surprisingly productive and cut the projected time for the job by a full day. The hoist was The Wandering Monk’s work, but powering it with the riding mower was the brainstorm of his minion, a 14-year-old boy from my neighborhood. The mower belongs to his family.

When the guys were wrapping up, I requested, “Please ask your mom or dad if I can reimburse them for use of the mower, or at least replace the gas we used.”

“Oh, they don’t need that,” he assured me. “They’ve got plenty of money.”

The Monk and I tried to explain that it had nothing to do with money and everything to do with neighborly courtesy, but the young man was on a roll. He proceeded to inform us exactly what his parents’ incomes were.

I already guessed they had unusually large incomes for our neighborhood because that family has a lot of nice toys and doesn’t appear to be in any distress over them. Their son’s recitation was completely Not My Business — and very interesting in spite of (or because of) that.

Later, the three of us got to talking about guns and gun rights and the kid regaled The Monk and me, without prompting, about the size and make-up of his dad’s gun and ammo collection, naming specific weapons and amounts on hand.

Again, I wasn’t surprised, except by the sheer scale of things (you might be thinking he exaggerates or lies, but he’s the classic good kid and not the blowhard type). I was gratified because now I know that at least two neighbors are armed for Armageddon. But while the bad angel on my left shoulder listened happily to the details, the good angel on my right shoulder urged me, “Tell this kid to ut-shay up-fay.” My bad angel — glad to know my neighbors are even better armed and prepped than I took them to be — won the argument.

I’ll go over and personally offer mower reimbursement to his mom or dad. I’m debating whether to suggest his folks give him a talk about confidentiality and need-to-know. Probably won’t do the latter. He’s at that age where lectures from parents don’t go down so well. I might make the need-to-know suggestion directly to him (if my bad angel, who appreciates the gossip, will just get out of the way).

In any case he did no harm by talking to me or The Monk. But you’ve got to wonder how many others he might give such details to and what the hearers proclivities might be.

I’ve seen plenty of hints over the years that the parents are well-prepared and aware of what’s going on in the world. They’re nice people with good values. They’ve raised their children responsibly, and even the 14-year-old is clearly aware of encroaching gun laws and the threat they pose to freedom. If push comes to shove, this family (including their kids, who shoot and hunt) are likely to be major assets to the neighborhood.

But they’ve got a serious hole in their security, the kind any family could have and the kind that’s hard, and perhaps impossible, to plug. Good idea to teach kids sound security practices before they’re old enough to think they know everything.


  1. david
    david August 9, 2019 4:47 am

    I used to try to teach my girls not to discuss ‘family business’ with anyone. I explained that it takes a long time to figure out who you might trust Implicitly and who you can only trust to some degree or other.

    Even a person who would never steal from you might be a blabbermouth who would – without any ill intent – tell someone else who would steal in a heartbeat precisely where you hide your weapons and what is there. And that chatterbox Is someone you don’t want to know any such details BECAUSE of their loose lips – but maybe you can trust them to walk your dog or borrow your truck.

    Also, situations change. I was once told that most men in prison for drug or weapon crimes were there because an angry spouse or GF or ex-whatever had ratted them out to the Po-Po. My first wife’s behavior after we split made me inclined to believe that statement.

  2. Steve Watt
    Steve Watt August 9, 2019 4:58 am

    I’m a private guy and I don’t put anything on this internet thingie that I wouldn’t print in the paper, but so many DO! I see people who list their firearms (you don’t know if I have any or not, nobodies business) I see people who list when they go on vacation (nobodies business) or even what kinds of toys they leave lying around.Wanna share vacation pics? Do it AFTER you get home and don’t tell anyone with an internet connection that you’re not home and your firearms and such are sitting there , unprotected. It’s become so prevalent that kids don’t think anything of sharing all sorts of private info. Bugs the heck out of me.

  3. Comrade X
    Comrade X August 9, 2019 7:28 am

    A Flintstone hoist without the dinosaur.

    You could be surprised to find out that maybe the whole family has no idea of OPSEC and loose lips might be part of their egos. The kid may not have fallen that far from the tree.

    I knew a fellow who would showed up at the range with an arsenal that had to be carted in which in a way is telling any thief there to follow me home to know where to rob when I go on vacation, when you think about it if you were MS13 and needed some pieces where is a better place in town to locate who might have some than the local range for some zero dark thirty visits at a later date?

  4. maDDtraPPer
    maDDtraPPer August 9, 2019 10:09 am

    Probably trying to impress you to fit in. It’s an awkward age. I wouldn’t think he’d do the same to just anyone on the street although he’d likely make easy prey for someone who was wanting that information to do harm. I’d talk to him, it will go way farther coming from the two of you than his parents especially if you present it as peers and not condescending. There is one common thing here which reminds me of security and safety and that’s if I can’t find the key to my safe, there’s a certain 5 year old who will know where it’s hidden. That truth extends to when I was a kid. No matter where my dad hid the key to the gun locker, I always made short work of finding it. Children ALWAYS know.

  5. kentmcmanigal
    kentmcmanigal August 9, 2019 10:38 am

    Several years ago I was playing with my daughter on a swingset– I would guess she was 3 or 4 at the time– and this other girl came over to talk with us. She told me her name, age (11), her address, the fact that her dad was a truck driver and wasn’t home except on certain days– and told me which days those were. I didn’t even ask any questions that would have prompted her to talk. I had just said “hi”. When she finished rattling off the family secrets I told her she really shouldn’t go around telling people these things. She shrugged it off. I still run into her on occasion and she’s still an “interesting” individual.

  6. Those People
    Those People August 9, 2019 2:54 pm

    Cool piece of engineering!
    I am struck by how marvelously idyllic your street is.

  7. larryarnold
    larryarnold August 10, 2019 8:39 pm

    Had a choir director once who would post member’s future vacation trips on the church website, until I told her a burglar might be real interested. She was “O.M.G I hadn’t thought of that,” and she quit.
    Weird part was that her husband was a district judge, and got to see the results pretty regular. I guess she just didn’t connect what she heard from him to what us upstanding folks did.

    My current choir director isn’t any better. He asked us to list summer Sundays we would be out of town on a big whiteboard in the middle of the choir room, visible through the glass in the door. I talked him out of that, too.

    I probably don’t take as many security precautions as I could, but…dang.

  8. Claire
    Claire August 13, 2019 3:13 pm

    “I am struck by how marvelously idyllic your street is.”

    You know, that’s the perfect word — idyllic. I’ve never thought of that term for my street, but now I always will. It fits perfectly.

  9. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray August 22, 2019 6:06 am

    Claire, I’d suggest overruling your Bad Angel and having a careful conversation with the parents. Soon.

    The child quite possibly got all that information because the parents discussed it freely in detail, way too freely in my estimation, if that was the case. He may have “snooped” (for various values of “snooped”) to learn it, kids are naturally curious and a pay stub(s) or bank statement(s) left out on a table can easily attract their attention, and they will pay attention to adult discussions held around them, including the half of a phone call they can hear.

    Here’s the issue: The parents may not be aware of how much confidential family information is being distributed around the neighborhood,or elsewhere – if the child talked to you, he’s also talking to others; school, his friends, other neighbors, store personnel, etc. If the parents are aware of it and don’t think it’s important, the entire family are people you need to stay far away from because not only will they publicize their confidential information, they’ll publicize yours and that of others in the neighborhood as well.

    That sort of information can easily attract “unsavory characters” who may not view his parents’ house as the only asset in the neighborhood worthy of their attention; a neighborhood that is “idyllic and bucolic” to its residents may be viewed as “isolated and easy pickings” to Bad Bart and his associates; everyone in your neighborhood is being placed at some degree of risk.

    A bell cannot be unrung so the info that’s out there is out there forever but the flow can be stopped. That flow includes any information you may make available to your neighbors as well; there’s a large difference between being rude and being circumspect.

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