Lately, it seems my three kids are leaning towards a different kind of play. Particularly if it is instigated by my 9 year old, I more often find these three sitting around our whittling spot (aka the woodpile) or tinkering with the box of mechanical "junk" I have saved for the last ten years...anticipating this stage we have firmly landed in.
While most definately there is still lots of imaginary goodness involving knights and princesses and storm troopers...there is also a more focused (and quieter!) gathering where they chat about all kinds of important things to a 4, 6 and 9 year old (which revolves around knights, princesses and storm troopers).
I really find these quieter hours so intriguing...my four year old's determination to whittle designs on his sword, my six year old's attention to detail on her needle felting, and my nine year old's imagination making a robot head out of various "junky" parts.
We started off teaching our kids to use sharp tools right when they were wee little toddlers, helping slice cucumbers and zucchinis in the kitchen. My oldest recieved his firts knife on his eigth birthday and he has used it responsibly, taking care to follow the rules we set out for him. And it is only natural that my youngest son follows his big brother's lead, though a little earlier for carving by a year or two.
I have to admit, there is a healthy amount of faith I have at these times when I see the knives come out and they gather the stools around the woodpile. But I am so encouraged by the conversations that ensue as the older brother teaches his siblings how to properly sharpen the blades, or Sunshine cautions the boys to be careful because she is using sharp needles. Yes, I gently chime in with reminders and support, but this is largely their own time, creating with their own two hands.
And just look at what is created! So much goodness...
weavings by Forrest and Sunshine
birthday gifts for a friend, made by Sunshine
Recipe for tinkering, exploring, and creating
~ a healthy dose of trust
~ a pinch of guidance
~ a generous heaping of freedom
~ a dash of encouragement
~ hold the helicopter-parent sprinklings, no matter how swiftly they bubble to the surface