If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I love spending time in the wood shop. You could say its kind of my refuge. My happy place.
As my kids have gotten older, the wood shop has become a place where they like to hang out too. Evenings after work, I’ll slip away for a little while to work on a project, and often one or both of the middle boys will come out with me. Its become a good place for us to spend time with each other, and for them to learn some valuable lessons along the way.
1.Patience Goes A Long Way
Measure twice, cut once. Its the first thing you learn when working with wood. Be intentional about what you are doing. Being thoughtful and paying attention to the details will save a lot of time (and frustration) down the road.
There are so many distractions in today’s world. Television. IPads. Phones, video games and whatever else. Its hard for kids to stay focused, for them to sit still and to problem solve through all of the noise. Their attention is pulled in a thousand directions.
In the wood shop, kids have the opportunity to develop patience and critical thinking skills as they work with their hands to create something out of nothing. There is value in the process of this, a slowing down of time that is so healthy for a young person to experience, and in many circumstance so rare today. In a society where instant gratification is the rule rather than the exception, kids need to learn that anything worth having is worth working for.
2. Its Okay To Make Mistakes
There is really nothing that can’t be undone in the shop. Wood can be forgiving. Glue can be sanded away. Holes can be filled. Both of my middle boys struggled with this in the beginning because they wanted to be perfect the first time. How often do we do the very same thing as an adult?
There is such a sense of accomplishment when a project is finished. When you can stand back and admire what you’ve built. The first thing you want to do is show someone. Hey, look what I did! This is good, very good as a matter of fact.
But so is the journey that it took to get there. It’s in the process that kids will learn that its okay to make mistakes, as long as you’re there to teach them how to learn from those mistakes. Each mistake will lead to a better understanding of the craft, and in the longer term, a healthier sense of what it means to be human.
3. Accomplishment Will Lead To Confidence
Through the process of working with wood, kids will have the opportunity to build confidence in themselves through their accomplishments. Math skills, sure. Tool safety, yes. But also the value of seeing something through from beginning to end. The value of perseverance. How many times have I seen my kids get frustrated and quit just become something was hard? We can’t let those moments go, because eventually they’ll grow up and become adults that quit because life is too hard. A lost job. A broken relationship. A shattered dream. Perseverance developed at a young age builds character and will prepare the heart for the harder things that will surely come as an adult.
It’s a weathered kind of pride that is developed in the shop. One that is earned through pulling splinters from the skin, from shaking off the pain of a smashed thumb, and from trying again and again until something is just right. A child will learn to respect the tools and the resources they are given, to love something beyond themselves, because they see that passion within you. This is so good.
We need men and women of character and humble confidence. These things are born, or lost, within the heart of a child.
One last note. More importantly, I think, than the process of learning to work with wood is the time that you spend with your son or daughter. Inviting them into your sacred space (whatever that may be; for me its the shop) and sharing with them a skill or a passion that you have honed in yourself over the years; few things can compare to the power of this. Its in the time, you see, where the magic really lies. The act of exchanging knowledge from elder to youth is a sacred rite that has mostly gone extinct in today’s busy culture. That’s a sad thing that has had consequences on our children.
So the door to my shop will always remain open to my kids. I love that they want to follow me in there. They come with a thousand questions and still leave my tools out of place sometimes. But the journey is good for me too, you see. I’m also learning patience. After all, they are my greatest accomplishment, these kids. And its my job to build them up to the best of my ability. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I do know that much.