For the last few years we’ve been working at opening a native bee sanctuary and ethnobotanical (useful plant) garden on our farm. The kids have been involved all along the way, whether digging holes, planting trees (medicinal, dye, aromatherapy, edible, insect repelling, plants for construction & craft etc), or just helping out with general chores so we could work on the project.
One of the big jobs that needed doing was the building of the deck off the recycled shipping container we’re using as our entry and farmgate shop. It was big job that took up time for my husband each day for weeks, and during the afternoons after school and on weekends, our 10yo son learned how to use a hammer…how to use a hammer….how to use a hammer – thousands of times actually. At times it was obviously laborious, at times it took more concentration than he wanted to muster, at times he flat refused to get involved, and at other times he literally nailed it and became wholly absorbed in the process.
Looking back, it was not just the construction of a deck, it was also part of the construction of the child and the man he will become.
He saw the project go from bare earth, to the digging of the holes for the foundations, through to each piece of timber being laid in place. He saw other friends and guests’ kids help out on it too (see victory pic when they worked out the last piece in the jigsaw), and he personally contributed a big effort to its completion. And unlike the computer games he also likes to have a play of…what he created is actually in the real world, with real purpose and real results…and it took real effort.
When he stood on the deck at the opening, he was beaming with pride. Yes, he’d been asked to help and he didn’t always want to, but in the end, he played a big role in something that actually mattered. He could see the real results of his real effort. He had become more capable and his smile was so strong because he knew he’d made a whopping contribution.
Every time someone steps onto the deck and comments what a beautiful space it is to view the farm, it gives him a boost, and a solid base to continue to grow from.
There are ideas in Honeycomb Kids about how you can involve your child around the home and in your community so their self esteem can grow naturally, and please, add some of your own ideas to this post too so we can all share.
So….child labour…or doing the child a favour?