(Image added by Icysugarspike to http://pixar.wikia.com/Sid_Phillips)


If you don’t know who Sid Phillips is, you must not have a preschooler in the house. Sid is the bad seed kid in the first “Toy Story” movie. (He’s also the teenaged garbage man in “Toy Story 3,” which I presume is supposed to teach us that crime doesn’t pay or something. Protagonist Andy goes to college while antagonist Sid picks up garbage. I was under the impression that garbage men make good money, but I digress.)

Since my kids became obsessed with watched the movie, we’ve used Sid as an example of how not to act, a cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t be mean or break your toys. In the end (SPOILER ALERT!), Sid is scared straight when the toys come to life and threaten him. What goes around, comes around.

Recently, though, I’ve had cause to reevaluate my opinion of Sid. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know I’m a big proponent of free-range parenting. I am not a helicopter parent and I want my kids to have as much freedom, risks and all, as possible. I found this video over the weekend:


Sid Phillips may not have climbed a tree on film, but he definitely did some of these other dangerous things!

  • Walk to school. We’ll never know if Sid went to school at all, but he rode his skateboard to Pizza Planet by himself, which definitely counts.
  • Burn things with a magnifying glass. Don’t you remember the big burn mark on Woody’s forehead? Remember the sizzling sound as it was burning, a sound that stopped only when Sid ran from the room and Woody dipped his head in a bowl of milk and cereal?
  • Make a bomb in a bag. Sid really exceeded expectations on this one. He went right from blowing up a Combat Carl with an M80 to strapping Buzz to a rocket that was clearly marked “not for children.” Plus he was playing with matches!!!!
  • Superglue your fingers together. I’m sure that in all the surgeries he performed on his (and his sister’s) toys, procedures that involved surgical masks, electrical tape and a vise, superglue had to be involved. It is very easy to picture Sid gluing his own fingers (or Hannah’s) together.

Sid Phillips also did some other decidedly free-range activities during his brief time on screen. He played outside, unsupervised, all day long instead of sitting inside in front of a TV (that was presumably his dad snoozing through the Buzz commercial). He obviously loved being outside because he was seriously bummed when the rain delayed his rocket launch of Buzz. Yes, he played video games at Pizza Planet but as mentioned above, he rode his skateboard to get there. Plus he chose one of the more physical games (especially when you stand on top of the console to play it): Whack-an-Alien.

If my kids act more like Sid than like Andy day to day, I’m okay with that. Sid obviously cared for animals – witness his close relationship with his dog, Scud, and his mumbling during his sleep, “I wanna ride the pony . . .” Once he realized that the toys were, in fact, alive and had feelings, he no longer hurt them. He had a great imagination and didn’t need high-tech toys to keep him busy. He didn’t burn the house down with those matches and he didn’t lose a finger in that vise.

Gever Tulley really hits the nail on the head (with a grown-up-sized hammer, no less): Kids need to explore and learn on their own. My kids have driven a car (dangerous thing # 7) and have climbed trees (dangerous thing # 2). As they get older, I want them to do all 48 other things on the list. I’ve got a magnifying glass and some real tools on their wish lists for Christmas and I’m saving up to send them to Tulley’s Tinkering School when they are older. The mission of Tinkering School? “Putting power-tools in the hands of 8 year-olds.” It’s free-range parenting taken to a whole new level. Don’t just be hands-off with your kids, encourage and enable them to be hands-ON.


So let’s give Sid Phillips a break and not put him up there on the list of all-time movie bad kids along with Scut “Yellow Eyes” Farkus and Johnny “Sweep the Leg” Lawrence. After all, he was tinkering and free-range back in ’95, before it was cool.


Check out these related links:

Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your kids do)

Free-Range Kids


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