Two things I’ve learned as a parent:
- Be present as much as I can.
- Say yes as much as I can.
So two weeks ago my 15 year old asked me if I would take him to the store so he could buy material to make a hammock. I didn’t think he could make one that would actually work. Like stay hanging in the trees and not break. I was about to brush him off, tell him no, and say all the reasons why I didn’t think it would work, and then go about my business and not listen to him any more. But I remembered the two rules above. I asked him how he was going to make it. He told me he had found some instructions online. I asked him how he would make it so it didn’t rip and he told me he would use special heavy duty fabric. I agreed as long as he spent his own money on all the materials. If it didn’t work, he would learn from the experience how to make a better one, and it would be on his dime. So that’s all part of saying yes as much as I can. I don’t want to be the one who says “no” if I don’t have to. The “no” will come in the form of it not working and then he can go back to the drawing board and figure it out to make it a yes. He was going to Williamsburg Learning’s Elevation camp the next week and wanted to sleep in a hammock while there. (Williamsburg Academy is an online school for jr high and high schoolers that my four oldest children have all experienced off and on through the years. It is based on classics and meets online and we love it! It fits our family’s homeschooling culture well.) Anyway, He has been bugging me for years to make a hammock. I finally agreed because he had his own money this time around. (What is it about boys and hammocks? I remember my brothers both had one when I was growing up.)
To my surprise, the hammock worked! He used the instructions here. He bought his rip stop material at Jo Ann’s, instead of Walmart, because he found a coupon for Joann’s, and the hardware and webbed straps at Home Depot. He spent the next two days sewing it up on my sewing machine and then hung it up in our desolate garden space. I love his “get it done” energy! He talks about it and then gets it done fast once I give him the green light! It hasn’t broken or torn yet. He has been sleeping in it outside for a few nights and loves it!
I taught him how to sew on my machine years ago when he insisted on making bean bags, as part of me being a “present parent” and responding to his wholesome desires. He is my third boy but the first of my boys to show interest in using a sewing machine. He has used it many times since he was 9 or so. I just love seeing what interests my kids get and how they develop their visions into reality, even when they prove me wrong. Last Christmas he helped my 21 year old daughter sew polar fleece pajama pants for my husband and me as Christmas gifts. They are super cozy and yummy!
So don’t be afraid to say yes to your children’s requests, even if it means taking them to buy materials, seeing them make messes, and make mistakes. Let your boys learn how to sew, they can make amazing things that benefit you! This summer I sure am going to enjoy chilling in his hammock, in the shade, while taking in some fun reads.