My 9 year old son (who we shall call Toad) and I decide to sit in the garden to enjoy what should have been a very relaxing day, just lying back and watching the birds flying around the garden. That was until Toad eyed up some spare wood. What followed was either very inspiring or a low budget Monty Python sketch.
He ambled around the garden for ten minutes holding his piece of wood. You could almost hear the cogs turning, which is never a good thing. Toad took the tool box from the shed and sat down with his basic materials. He turned the wood around several times, poked and prodded it, then tipped out a jar of nails and screws.
Not quite sure what was happening, I decided to allow this to play out.
Toad had now grabbed a saw and was attempting to cut through the wood. Having never used a saw, the blade was slipping from side to side, but Toad preserved and eventually had several different lengths of wood in front of him. Looking very pleased with himself, he scratched his head (which could have been where the splinters came from) and started to hammer the pieces together using screws.
Now we all know that trying to hammer screws into wood is about as effective as a chocolate fireguard, which it took him half an hour to find out. He moved on to the nails and after a few tries at finding the right size, he soon had a box beside him. He scoured the garden for more materials he could use. He tried various things and eventually seemed satisfied he had what he wanted.
I asked Toad if he wanted a drink, after all this process had taken several hours already and for someone with the attention span of a goldfish I was very impressed, although clueless to what he was doing. He replied that he couldn’t stop as he had a brain wave and didn’t want to lose it. After many tears at hitting his fingers with the hammer, we had what resembled a house.
Toad looked puzzled at the ‘house’ and I asked him what was wrong. He replied that it wasn’t quite finished so I suggested painting it. I gave him the last of the fence paint and he set to work painting the ‘house’…. and floor and clothes and face… Finally Toad stood up puffing out his chest and proudly announced he had made a bird house.
As a dutiful mother I told him how amazing it was, as I could see the nails protruding out of it from all angles, thinking I was going to be pulling off ‘bird kebabs’ from the house come morning. With that he skipped off to terrorise a butterfly that had made the mistake of fluttering in front of him.
I looked at what he had achieved; having never used tools before and having no help from an adult. The only inspiration Toad had had been his own imagination. He never once stopped, complaining how hard it was or that he couldn’t do something. He had the picture in his head and was determined to make the picture come to life. Not once did he think that he maybe he shouldn’t or couldn’t do it; he just had a tunnel vision aim to achieve. I wish I had this childlike grasp on starting a project. But why can’t I?