Here we are again. At the beginning. The beginning of a new year, the beginning of new experiences, just The Beginning.
I learned recently what it means to accomplish something, not because I did, but because those around me did. I think I take for granted that I could – if I wanted to – build a raft, or computer, or what-have-you. I believe that if you can read, you can do ANYTHING. There are self-help books, on-line tutorials, experts to contact and consult. I have the sure belief that I can learn to do whatever I set my mind to… so queue the kids and their recent experiences:
Over the summer, TheMinecraftMaster decided he wanted friends to come to play, so we arranged a DIY “camp” and roped in a couple of adults to help. My other half, PoorGuy, decided to begin with a raft building exercise. Pffft, a raft, we all know how to do that! I’ve watched Gilligan’s Island, and even more recently, some survival-with-nothing-but-a-wet-noodle shows. I watched with interest as these kids hunted the property for branches and wooden palettes, hay baling twine and blue storage barrels, and set to sawing and lashing and laying out – in the pouring rain – the most butt-ugly, sure-to-sink-like-a-stone contraption. My heart sank to my stomach at the thought of the sheer disappointment these kids were going to experience when launching the raft on to our pond and find it just keeps going down into the muddy bottom…
Fueled with food and enthusiasm, the rain eased and undaunted, and with no fear or doubt, the IntrepidExplorers bravely pushed their result to the concrete block edge of likely failure, and shoved their raft until it teetered over the edge and began its descent toward the water. All the adults held their breath. All the kids cheered as the front dipped and then sprang up and floated!!! The waterrats lept on like they pre-planned the whole thing, their choreography an impressive site to behold as they fanned out evenly to balance their monstrosity! They even thought of a life ring for the one who wasn’t a particularly good swimmer, should their fate be to sink halfway to their destination. And like bold explorers, they set off for the farthest shore, confident they were going to succeed with their quest.
We watched, and cheered, from the safety of the shore as they navigated their cumbersome behemoth of a raft toward their destination. With great determination, they arrived at the other side. They were triumphant! The glee was contagious, their engineered feat a success, and the thing that struck us hardened adults the most, was their sense of accomplishment was palpable. That pile of – to a non-understanding eye – floating flotsam and jetsam, of garbage, was to these boys at this time a complete work of art, something they created together, something that succeeded, that worked, something to make their hearts soar and minds sing. Those kids buzzed about this raft for the whole week, using it every chance they got, and so the tone for the week was set. By some old branches, a few wooden palettes, baling twine, and a goal.
As adults, we forget what simple accomplishments can do for our feeling of self-worth and confidence. It was, and still is, marvellous to think we had a helping hand in making these kids glow.
So, fast forward six months, and we are trying to decide what to give SweetViolet for Christmas. We finally settled on a Piper Computer, one that you piece together yourself. Wanting to engage SweetViolet more in technology, especially given the influence of TheMinecraftMaster, we hoped she would be happy with our choice. We are a pro-technology family, and know how to build our own computers anyway, but the Piper was a comprehensive package bundled in such a way that we felt would help facilitate learning.
I can’t extoll the amazingness of the Piper Kitset enough. They have carefully considered how to get a child started, how to engage them in continuing, and how to build the skills step-by-step. SweetViolet was quite keen to start assembling the computer, and her enthusiasm didn’t dwindle as she got further along, if anything, she was so stoked from the earlier successes, she was determined to keep going. The day she powered on her self-built computer was one of indescribable joy – so much so, she had to run outside to give out a huge shriek of pleasure at her accomplishment.
Now, I know the sense of satisfaction I get from completing something, the feeling of pride of a job well done, but I have forgotten that surge of glee, of unashamed pride, of sheer delight at something you did. But I forgot just how wonderful it was to have that feeling. I am so pleased my kids got to have these experiences, and now I need to help guide them to having many more in future. And in the meantime, maybe, just maybe, I too will regain that amazing feeling myself.
To 2018 – a year of living gleefully.