In his autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt wrote this wonderful passage:
The children had pets of their own, too, of course. Among them guinea pigs were the stand-bys—their highly unemotional nature fits them for companionship with adoring but over-enthusiastic young masters and mistresses. Then there were flying squirrels, and kangaroo rats, gentle and trustful, and a badger whose temper was short but whose nature was fundamentally friendly. The badger’s name was Josiah; the particular little boy whose property he was used to carry him about, clasped firmly around what would have been his waist if he had had any. Inasmuch as when on the ground the badger would play energetic games of tag with the little boy and nip his bare legs, I suggested that it would be uncommonly disagreeable if he took advantage of being held in the little boy’s arms to bite his face; but this suggestion was repelled with scorn as an unworthy assault on the character of Josiah. “He bites legs sometimes, but he never bites faces,” said the little boy. We also had a young black bear whom the children christened Jonathan Edwards, partly out of compliment to their mother, who was descended from that great Puritan divine, and partly because the bear possessed a temper in which gloom and strength were combined in what the children regarded as Calvinistic proportions. As for the dogs, of course there were many, and during their lives they were intimate and valued family friends, and their deaths were household tragedies. One of them, a large yellow animal of several good breeds and valuable rather because of psychical than physical traits, was named “Susan” by his small owners, in commemoration of another retainer, a white cow; the fact that the cow and the dog were not of the same sex being treated with indifference. Much the most individual of the dogs and the one with the strongest character was Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay dog. He had a masterful temper and a strong sense of both dignity and duty. He would never let the other dogs fight, and he himself never fought unless circumstances imperatively demanded it; but he was a murderous animal when he did fight. He was not only exceedingly fond of the water, as was to be expected, but passionately devoted to gunpowder in every form, for he loved firearms and fairly reveled in the Fourth of July celebrations—the latter being rather hazardous occasions, as the children strongly objected to any “safe and sane” element being injected into them, and had the normal number of close shaves with rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers.
Delightful! Can you imagine the hysterics that would attend such scenes if played out in front of many of today’s parents?
Badgers, bears, and close calls with Roman candles is just how a child, especially a boy, should wile away the time. And don’t forget pocket knives and a .22 rifle. Parents, if you raise a boy to sixteen who has no scars and whose life you have never thought to be in peril you have done a disservice to your boy and to your country.