My kids like to dig. A lot. And to build things, or at least, pretend to build things. Most of the time nothing much comes from all the banging and sawing and digging except some banging, sawing and, well, holes of course. It took a couple months but we were able to contain the hole digging to one large sandy area in the front yard at the bottom of the berm separating us from the road. We refer to it as the sand pit. But, the rest of the building occurs wherever and whenever it's needed.
This means, that at any given moment of any given day my yard will be strewn, not with toys, but saws, hammers, nails, boards, shovels and any other dangerous tool a kid could find useful. They are all aware of the need for safety and, for the most part, are trusted to use the tools.
To be honest, I'm never far away. Of course, that does not mean we don't have the occasional smashed thumb or, most recently and most severe, a severed fingernail but, I agree with Gever Tulley, and my own mom, when it comes to kids and tools.
Many, many years ago I called my mom to ask whether she thought my daughter, 3 or 4 at the time, was old enough to use sharp knives, she loved to cook and desperately wanted to help with the chopping, my mom lovingly pointed out that the worst that could happen was that she'd cut her finger, need a few stitches and learn a valuable lesson and she was right, of course.
There is a sense of importance when they use the tools, their play becomes more than play, it's serious business. I love that my kids are comfortable with tools, that they are aware, first hand, of the dangers and listen intently to warnings, even more so since the fingernail incident.
I don't usual think much of this hobby my kids share but, yesterday a man stopped by to survey the house for the insurance company, we had no idea he was coming. The house was a mess and the yard, well, the yard to me is lovely, sprinkled with the things that make us happy and keep us busy. But, to a surveyor for the insurance company? Not so much.
Not only had the kids been happily digging in the sand pit all morning, they had also been constructing a lovely home within it, meaning shovels, rakes, miscellaneous boards and the entire contents of the recycling bin, were everywhere.
My son's recent obsession with baseball means there is always a field set up and what's a resourceful boy to do but use the available scrap wood he finds as bases.
Then there's the "dock" the kids built when their friends visited, the one that's basically pallets stacked on the edge of the pond.
Not to mention the still under construction chicken coop with two by fours tossed under and around waiting to be made into fencing for the run, and all the garden junk I have laying about and oh yeah, there's that swing set in the back that is still waiting to be put back together from the move over a year and a half ago.
I believe the term construction zone was used.
I suppose I knew it was bad, but it all looks so pretty through my rose colored glasses. The kids happily digging and raking in the sand, the boy tossing the ball in the air, swinging his bat and running the bases and the messy garden waiting for me to finish my tea and get back to planting. The coop and run are looking great and only need another solid weekend of attention before they're done and that swing-set, well with a sand pit, a garden and chickens to tend to who can blame us for letting the swing-set go?
I tried not to let it bother me, but it did. The negative voices crept in, "What kind of mother lets her kids use a saw or hammer and nails? I should be ashamed. Why is it I can never keep up with all the messes, inside and out? I must be doing something terribly wrong. These kids should be playing with toys not tools. You should put away all your garden mess even if you're planning to get back to it after that tea break.
I suppose a major yard clean up is in order for this evening, it's wet and rainy and none of us are in the mood but, not everyone can see just how awesome it can be to live in a construction zone and we really wouldn't want to have any visitors get hurt, we'll try to be more careful Mr. Insurance Man and, maybe it's time we start working on that wood-shop we keep saying we'll set up in the garage.