The first words out of my grandson’s mouth when he arrived for his summer vacation was “Can I work? I want to work.” We all had a good laugh then his father asked if he could wait a day so we could just visit and catch up. The next morning he woke me up asking what work he could do. One track mind?
I did anticipate this and had a few things I’d saved for them to help with around the property.
I’ve lived here almost two years and one thing I couldn’t get help with was the closet. There are two shelving units were attached the one stuck out blocking access because it extended beyond the doorway preventing my chair from passing through.
I had asked my daughter-in-law to move the shelf that was causing the problem but after briefly looking told me she couldn’t because it was attached to the wall.
We had a really hot June so I had to bring the children inside during the hottest part of the days. After a long winter and sitting in a classroom their delicate skin wasn’t used to the hot scorching sun and I didn’t want them getting burned.
On one of those afternoons my grandson was frustrated because the work was outside. I decided to let him play in the closet and see if he could figure out how to detach the shelf. We set up the step-ladder and I handed him a set of screwdrivers. I assumed anyone who wanted to ensure this shelf stayed put would use screws. They didn’t, they simply nailed it in place to the top of the door frame.
My grandson grabbed the hammer instead and used the claw to pry the shelf off the door frame, then moved the shelf to the back of the closet freeing up enough room for the closet to now be functional for me. Seeing how much he’d learned and how quickly he could problem solve I nicknamed him my mini-handyman.
The cicadas provided him with another job that required a handsaw. This branch fell into the drive in the middle of a beautiful afternoon. We hadn’t had rain or a storm, and after inspecting the branch we couldn’t see any reason it fell.
You can see the leaves are still green in this photo yet less than two hours after removing the branch the leaves were brown and brittle and the branches were so dry you would have thought this section of the tree had been cut down last year. That’s when we realized just how destructive the cicadas were.
The cicadas live off the sap in the branches and the females cut slits in the branches to lay their eggs where the hatching cicadas then use the sap for nourishment. If too many eggs hatch in a branch they will drain the branch of every drop of sap killing it but I had no idea how fast a tree branch could die.
When the children were here for Christmas we had mild weather so of course they asked for work they could do outside. There isn’t much you can do when the ground is frozen. The children decided to carry down the sections of trees I’d had trimmed and cleared to fill the garden beds.
Having to work from a wheelchair I needed to have raised beds which will use a lot of dirt to fill and push the initial costs of starting a garden up. I decided to use the Hugelkultur method to reduce the amount of soil I would need to purchase while adding nutrients as the wood decomposed. Another benefit of Hugelkultur is that the rotting wood extends the growing season by a couple of weeks on each end of the season. Living in the Northeast anything I can do to extend the growing season is a blessing.
Not all the tree branches fit nicely in the raised beds. We had to cut many of the branches and stomp on them to pack them in good. A handsaw would have taken a long time so I brought out my cordless multi-tool my son gave me for Christmas a few years ago to help with my furniture restoration projects. My grandson couldn’t wait to use a power tool. 🙂
In case you are wondering, I introduced my grandson to tools when he was three years old, yes with his parent’s permission. I first showed him how to use a screwdriver to put in and remove screws, from there we moved on to a hammer and simple non-power tools. The first power tool he used was a drill with a screwdriver bit. If well supervised children adapt to tools quickly. Now seven we still supervise him and remind him of proper safety measures.
Now that the beds were ready, they had to be filled. Because the part of the property where I am building the gardens is fenced in I had to have the soil dumped in the driveway and lugged up into the yard.
I purchased five yards of clean top soil. I had the soil dumped on a 12 by 10 tarp thinking that would be large enough, it wasn’t. The neighbor kids were excited to see dirt but when I had to put an end to playing in it so I could fill the beds they quickly left. Not my grandson.
I had considered purchasing a wheelbarrow but thought I would be doing most of the hauling of the soil and couldn’t see maneuvering my chair and a wheelbarrow at the same time without spilling a few loads. I headed to the store and picked up a couple buckets sold for washing a car. The children might have been able to handle the wheelbarrow but this works well for me. I can fill a bucket or two and carry them into the yard on my footrest to dump.
The first day my grandson wanted no help but had a sore back and legs from carrying the buckets himself into the yard. Not wanting him to overdo it and hurt himself we pulled out other projects for a couple of days before I let him loose on the dirt pile again.
The following days we took turns filling the buckets, then I carried them into the yard for him to dump. He was frustrated with me when I would make him stop during the hottest part of the day so I always tried to have activities to fill that part of the day, such as sewing. After a few days of work he’d moved more than two-thirds of the soil into the yard. You can see above in the picture of the neighbor boys laying on the top of the pile how high it had been.
His sister while not the laborer her brother is wasn’t going to be left out of all the “fun”.
Children may love to work but they know the fine art of taking breaks and having a bit of fun too.
There were no jobs they didn’t want to take part in. They offered to help weed.
Sanded down thrift store picture frames and helped repaint them to better match my decor.
And spotted a chair we found in the attic crawl space that needed a good sanding. There is something about the lines of the legs I just love, when done this will be a nice little corner seat on the deck.
When I moved here my son informed me he was having the deck repaired, railings put up and ramps built as a move-in gift. Well, the railings never went up. I have been very nervous about a child falling off the deck ever since.
After getting quotes from various handymen I determined it was way cheaper to purchase my own saw than pay to have the railing put up by someone else. I didn’t have the proper saw when the kids were here so decided to at least temporarily put up some of the wood to give me some peace of mind. I realized early on there was no way I was going to get away with using a power tool without sharing the work.
My saw arrived today, so those temporary rails will be coming down this weekend, after the rains stop.
These jobs weren’t done all at once, I’m not a slave driver. 🙂
Children love to be helpful and they love to learn new skills. Not all seven-year olds are ready to use a power tool and there are some tools I won’t introduce him to even though he has been raised around tools. I wish you could have seen the pride these two have when they finish a task and the appreciation they have to be trusted to help with these jobs.
Did your child, or you, have a favorite tool they couldn’t wait to use?