ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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Crafting

 

In my last post I was talking about doing some crafting with Jake at a school workshop. I agree that the scenario sounded quite idyllic, and I did really enjoy it. What has been bugging me ever since is that I feel that it might have also been rather misleading. This is because I actually do not really like crafting, not for myself and not really with the boys either. Indeed there have been more occasions than I care to think of that Jake and/ or Sam have come up to me with a potential project involving painting, cutting out, drawing or sculpting in some way or another, and I have done my upmost to try to dissuade them; or convince them that they can do it on their own.

As I write this it makes me feel very bad. Am I, in essence, stifling their creative development? Why am I so opposed to doing this sort of thing with them? Should I snap myself out it and just get on with it? Well that little voice inside me is saying yes to that last question, but I still do not like hearing it.

I think that one of the reasons why I just do not like it is that I am really not very good at it myself, and while I do have my creative side (which I hope shows through in my writing) I just do not seem to have the vision to create something beautiful (I would be happy with recognisable) through the manipulation of paper, glue, crayons and various other ephemera.

While writing this my mind had gone back to an incident when I was probably twelve. I had been taking woodwork classes at school (to be honest I preferred domestic science) and had been let loose on a lathe, the idea being for me to produce a potato masher. I whittled away at the wood until I produced what can only be described as a standard lamp for a dolls house. I remember presenting to my Mum who was very taken with the object, but also found it hilarious when she found out what it was supposed to be. I remember that she carried it about in her handbag for quite a while as an example of my handiwork. She was proud but also realistic about my skills.

What I now wonder is whether experiences such as this, and the (lack of) expectation that was placed on me, have given me the ambivalence to crafting that I have today. Yes, as I said last time, they have the effect of allowing me to shape my own destiny much more; but there is a part of me that thinks that a little more encouragement in this area may have improved my confidence in my own ability to make and fix things.

What I have learned from my new work as a coach is that it is important to understand where our attitudes come from; and writing this post has helped me to surface some of the reasons why I am not all that keen on crafting. It is, for me, a relatively small thing but it will add to my overall view of who I am, and what sort of a Father I can be.

What it will not do is abandon my policy of keeping the DIY to a minimum. I may be more aware but I still think I can knock hundreds of the value of a house with one blow of the hammer. Overcoming that will take much more work.


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Cage fighting

We have bought a trampoline. So our back garden, like many others in Britain now screams out to passers by “we have got kids”. And screams are indeed now what regularly come out of our garden. Not only the screams of the boys, but also of Karen and I as we try to encourage some orderly bouncing.

Most of this is, of course, in vain and as I looked out of our kitchen window, from where we get an excellent view of the carnage being wrought as the boys ‘play’ in the garden, it struck me that with its fully enclosed high sides and many health and safety related features it was how I imagine a cage fight being, albeit one involving a lot of bouncing (which I am not sure that cage fighting generally does).

It usually starts quite quietly with the boys bouncing up and down and gradually warms up as they get more confident. Then as they start moving around more wildly they inevitably start bumping into each other amidst much pushing, falling over, and hysterical laughter. They enjoy it so much as it must seem like a safe environment as the netting will catch them if they fall. At the end of each phase of rolling around on the actual springy bit they then get up again and start bouncing, like a couple of prize fighters sizing each other up, and then smack back into it again. It is 90% sheer unadulterated pleasure for them and ends up with the other 10% which is, frankly, a little bit full on.

The key issue for me seems to be when to intervene. If I go too early I spoil their obvious pleasure, too late and there is an increased risk that one of them will get hurt. So why let them go on at all? Well I think it is a pretty safe environment in there, even though the weighty tome that is the instruction book seems to have been written with the sole purpose of the manufacturers avoiding any lawsuits from irate parents who, shockingly, think that it is ok to let more than one child on at a time. Actually if you followed the instructions to the letter you would never use the thing, so you can only accept the risks and get on with it.

This issue of intervention is one that I think increasingly about. The trampoline is not the only place where strife breaks out between the boys and whenever it does part of me wants to wade in straight away, and part of me wants to let them sort it out for themselves. The experience of the trampoline so far is that they manage to sort it out more than half the time, and continue as if nothing happened; but there are occasions where things do escalate. Learning the art of compromise and negotiation cannot be a bad thing, can it?

So I guess, as with many things to do with children, it is all about finding boundaries; not just for the boys by for me as well and I am conscious that I have different sense of risk than they do. When it comes to what they want they try and get it without, in that moment, worrying too much about the consequences. But while that my mean that they have realised that a certain action may result in something negative, the other side of that coin is that the can enjoy themselves without worrying too much either.

So when it comes to the trampoline I certainly do not want to stop them having the pure unadulterated pleasure that it brings. But I will still be keeping an eye on them.