And the memories come flooding back!
I recall being five when I discovered, by climbing garage shelving, my dad's Bowie knife. Let's just say that he was none too pleased when he discovered I'd been strutting around the neighborhood with it strapped to my hip.
I didn't find it again until I was around 13, however a year later I did find a cheap promo-gift type pocket knife just lying in the gutter on my way to school. It was unusual in that to open it you had to lift a hinged lever, slide the blade forward, then snap the lever back into the handle. The snap feature was a pretty solid locking mechanism which I thought great.
My mom found it on my dresser one morning, asked about it and told me to show it to my dad. He set down his morning paper and looked it over real good. My heart was pounding, fearing it was a goner. He simply said, "Pretty nice," handed it back to me and returned to his paper. I don't know if he caught hell for it later, probably not as it was a different era, but I was elated!
I too was 6 or 7. Its an awesome way to teach your son about respect for power. To me, I loved knights, battles, war........and to get ahold of a knife......you had the power. The power could hurt not only others but yourself (ie, my friend bobby closed the pocket knife on top of his knuckles as most kids do at least once). So, learning how to use it, respect the blade, keep it clean, dont joke around with it.......all great lessons, and a precurser, in my opinion to using a gun. While I am absolutly against anyone owning automatic weapons, and only chuckleheads want to carry a pistol to church and school...........I do think every kid should know how to use a weapon. Learn about how to load, shoot, carry a weapon, and weapon safety. A pocket knife is the first glimpse in to that world..........plus, you can carve stuff.....etc.
Boy Scouts used to have a great program for this......Totemanship. Not sure its still around....mine was a red card I had to keep on me....corners cut if you were caught screwing up....had to redo class to get new card if all 4 corners cut off......teaches you how to carry and use a knife, axe, etc. For beginners (age 11).
I didn't get into shooting until I was in high school, but I do agree that a knife teaches you the basics of responsibility with potentially dangerous things.
I also remember having that boy scouts knife with the little card...I think mine was yellow but I could be wrong. I never saw anyone getting a corner cut...
The cubscouts have a "Whittling Chip" that you get as a Bear. You have to be 8-9 years old, or in the 3rd grade. I found out by accident that they can't carry one until then, as I let my then 7 year old Tiger cub carry his to a meeting. Ooops! It was a prize from the popcorn, I thought if they would let him win it, he could carry it. Seems I was wrong.