Kids have fantastic imaginations and are creatively awe inspiring. It’s because of this, that you have to be really careful when they say something like, “Dad, I have a great idea of what we can do!” You may think you know what they are going to suggest; maybe a game you’ve played recently, perhaps play with the superhero action figures, maybe play ball outside. Or you may be taken by complete surprise and hear what I heard yesterday, “Let’s get some wood out of the garage and build a boat!” SAY HUH?!
My brain instantly goes into calculation mode and I quickly assess what “build a boat” means. I see the set up, the actual doing of the thing, and the clean up. You learn this mental time calculation quickly as a parent. Say you are building a standard kid fort. I’ve built plenty of forts in my day. I’m a fort aficionado. I love a good fort. I know what it means to set one up and take one down. When Noble asks for a fort, I see pillows, blankets, sheets, a furniture rearrange, mild frustration at the lacking of proper knowledge in architecture, playtime in a successful fort, then tear down, folding sheets, replacing pillows, putting furniture back, cleaning up toy mess. Forts can take some time. Especially when you have a 20 month old boy trying to help out.
And here was Noble asking to build a boat. This means getting out supplies, supervising, suggesting things, allowing for experimentation, keeping Alistair away from a power drill, painting, and then putting away of all the supplies. Now, I could have done the weeny thing and asked if we could make one out of paper, and float it in the sink, but I could see the monumental ambition in his eyes. He wanted to build a real boat! I also didn’t have the energy to deal with the load of whining that would have come with boat denial.
So I chose to be the “yes” man. You need more wood? Wonderful! You need a hammer and nails? Sure. A hole needs drilling? Sounds great, let’s get the power drill. Paint time? Here’s some brushes and a couple gallons. Go for it. It was his boat, so he did all the work and I played assistant. Sometimes you gotta let your kid go all the way with a monster idea like boat building. It’s really fun to watch.
Now don’t you be all worry-warty, everything was done according to the recent regulations on child safety. I made sure Noble was protected in a 12 point harness while all tools had foam tips that only exposed the dangerously hard surfaces at the moment prior to impact. He was placed inside a bullet proof bubble with exterior arms so that he could use the power drill with no possible means of injury. It’s all about continued safety, right? Hopefully you detected my subtle sarcasm. I gave him eye protection….that’s good enough, right?
This is definitely one of the most rewarding things about being a parent. You know, one of those letting your child use tools and then, when they survive without a broken bone, or excessive blood loss, you feel like you did something right -things. And then your wife tells you that you are insane. And then you tell your wife that no, no you are not insane. And then she reminds you that you let a child use grown up tools. And then you mention that he wore eye protection and that you monitored him the entire time. And you remind her that he has had tons of hammering practice on a watermelon. And then she shakes her head with a furrowed brow and says, “he’s 5.” And then you nod one of those proudly victorious nods as if your child is super advanced for doing all of this at age five. And then she stares at you. And then you stare at her. And then get lost romantically in each other’s eyes and start passionately kissing. And then you remember that it’s dinner time, so you collect yourselves and wash up for dinner. (This paragraph was 92% true. I will let you figure out the 8% margin of error.)
I’m so happy that I let him build the boat. He was so proud of his work. We were, too.