Mollie Z. Hemingway says that some kids in her northern Virginia neighborhood were trying to start a lawnmowing business. And then the neighborhood listserv weighed in:

But this email was very different. It read:

“We just had a group of adorable and entrepreneurial kids (young, maybe 9-11 years old) offer to mow our grass. Not to be Scrooges in the neighborhood, but what is the general consensus on this around [the neighborhood] re: safety? They looked pretty young, and we didn’t see a parent with them supervising. I realize kids want to earn spending money, but I was interested in getting the pulse on this sort of thing. Teenagers, maybe. But these kids looked like they may be older elementary school aged (guess). We had a family member lose a couple of toes mowing while a young kid, so maybe I’m just overly sensitive.”

The next email read, “For anyone whose interested, the [American Academy of Pediatrics] recommends that children be at least 12 years old before operating a push mower and 16 for a ride-on mower, along with a list of safety precautions. Just FYI.”

A link was provided to a page on the AAP web site headlined “Mowing the Lawn Can Be a Dangerous Chore.” Injury prevention tips there include: “Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity wear polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times.”

I repeat. One tip was that everyone in the vicinity of a lawn mower should be wearing polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times.

A neighbor weighed in: “That’s a good age recommendation, probably. I would also suggest not having any age kid mow if there are any pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides involved. The American Cancer Society considers those to be a risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, possibly more.”

All this made Mollie think about what this listserv response tells us about the kind of country we have become. Read the whole thing.