There’s something about a 9-year-old handling an incredibly sharp blade that makes one put down his book and slide the camping chair closer to the child.
Parental supervision, or lack thereof, is what hospital staff would likely call it, should something unfortunate happen.
My daughter has been asking occasionally for a pocket knife, a request that is followed by inquiries into her level of responsibility (i.e. it will never come out in front of friends, it will only be used around us, proper whittling technique, etc.).
So on a recent camping trip, the request was made again, and out came the Leatherman Wave. Searching around the campsite, we found first an inferior stick that broke as she tried to sharpen it. But with a thicker branch and the Leatherman’s locking knife, we soon had a proper cooking implement for hotdogs.
The 8.5-ounce Wave model is the company’s best seller, according to its website, and it’s little wonder why. This tool has more devices in it than one can shake a stout stick at.
Among them: wire and hard-wire cutters; a knife, a serrated knife and a saw; a wood/metal file and a diamond-coated file; large- and small-bit drivers and a medium screwdriver; needlenose and (of course) regular pliers; a bottle and can opener; and a wire stripper.
All of that, and we still haven’t gotten to the bit kit that comes with it. I half-expected, in investigating all the attributes, to find a smaller Leatherman within the Leatherman.
For our purposes, the locking blade is a great feature. Though my daughter’s small hands struggled at first to disengage the lock to close the knife back up, she soon got the hang of it.
She also quickly became an adept whittler, discovering — as countless children before her have — the smooth undersurface of sticks, and sharpening them to protect the camp from wild critters.
More than that, though, she enjoyed the relaxation inherent in whittling (her father hovering nearby notwithstanding). She deemed one of her efforts a keeper, not for cooking, and brought it home. The Leatherman went back into its usual spot in the back of the car, where it sits for roadside emergencies and the next camping trip.
Now that’s she’s proven trustworthy, the next question is: a Leatherman of her own or a Swiss Army knife? That will depend on which makes the cut in her mind.