I have enjoyed watching the neighbor boy get excited about learning to repair things and garden. One afternoon he spotted a chalkboard I made out of a kitchen cabinet door for my grandchildren. He had so many questions on how one makes a chalkboard I had to pull out my can of paint and explain it to him visually.
The idea that he could have his own chalkboard stayed with him and weeks later he showed up to ask if I could help him repair his dresser and “make chalkboards” on the drawer fronts. His mother gave her consent and we spent the next two days repairing the dresser, painting the drawers and then he decided he wanted to choose a paint from my stash to paint the rest of the dresser. When that was done I pulled out my boxes of knobs and let him select new knobs for the drawers to replace the bulky pulls that would have been in the way of creating his works of art. You would have thought I was Santa Claus from his excitement over those boxes of knobs. I wish I still had those pictures to share with you again.
You should have seen him sanding down those drawers. This was his dresser so my only job after assisting in the repairs was to answer his questions and provide the supplies. This was the first job he took on himself. I still smile remembering how he got his brother to help him carefully carry his finished dresser across the street and up the stairs to his bedroom, grinning all the way.
I heard every time he came looking for work over the winter how much fun he was having with his chalkboard drawers and his mother informed me he not only drew on the drawers but practiced his math on them as well.
Unfortunately, there’s a sad ending to this story.
With his mom in earshot he informed me his mother gave a way his dresser. She tried to say it broke but he insisted it didn’t. Finally, she admitted that the family she gave the dresser to didn’t have a dresser for their son and her son had another one he could use. In the end her child continued to lament the loss of his dresser he worked so hard on and his mother’s only response was…..are you ready? “Get over it, you didn’t need it.”
It was so hard for me to sit there and say nothing but I managed. That’s why I’m venting to you. 🙂
There are two sides to this story. First the boy’s side. He worked hard to restore this dresser and personalize it. He had that pride that can only come from a sense of accomplishing a task you didn’t know you could do. To him his mother didn’t respect the pride he got from having that dresser and took away a cherished object.
Then there is the mother’s side. She wanted to help another boy to have something he needed. I know what at least one other dresser in her sons’ (the youngest two share a room) looks like and the one she gave away was the nicest of the two, I can only imagine the third dresser could use some love. She didn’t want to give away the junky dressers because the junky pieces would reflect badly on her, in her view. I know I would feel horrible giving away something that needed serious work. This woman is sweet, she would give you the shirt off her back but I also see that when she gives it’s because she has little self esteem and hopes to earn friendship and respect.
Here’s the thing. If the mother had ever had the opportunity to make something for herself she would understand her son’s pain at the loss of his dresser and never would have considered giving it away without his consent.
I see a chasm opening up between mother and child. By my teaching her son these skills, I feel I’ve set him up to be different from other members of his family. There are no words a nine year old will have that can explain the loss he feels over what many would figure is just another piece of furniture.
I do have a plan. 🙂
Since I know there is still one dresser in his bedroom that is “his” when the garden is planted and the deck finished (a few things here need to take priority) I will offer to let him bring over his remaining dresser and give it a makeover. I better check that can of chalkboard paint first. 🙂