Let Them Go
If you read this blog regularly, you know I typically feature projects I do with my daughter. I’m usually right behind her, gathering materials and asking questions, and always taking photos.
This time, I let her go. Following days of miserable rain and cold, the kids across the street from us were finally outside, building a fairy house. They asked Amelia if she wanted to come help, and off she went, without me.
I was curious of course, so I took this opportunity to weed our garden and eavesdrop. I heard lots of giggling and watched Amelia and her friends comb the yard for materials. I casually walked the dog past to get a closer look.
Wow! These kids are engineers! The oldest one – a first-grader! – used vertical sticks to support a system of horizontal roof beams, overlaid with leaves. Surrounding the house was a stone wall three layers tall and carefully balanced. A little path of glass tiles led from the front door to the sidewalk, and out back the fairies had a swimming pool. A Fairy Dream House.
Best of all, they didn’t need any help. They didn’t want any help. They helped each other, negotiating and cooperating and having ideas and figuring out what they needed to make them work. They spent most of the afternoon working and playing.
So what did I learn from my afternoon off?
- Just say yes. Kids are naturally creative and inventive. If they want something badly enough, they’ll figure out how to make it work.
- Trust them. There were no intrinsically dangerous tools involved. Sure, splinters and scratches are always a possibility and a muddy mess is a probability, but kids are washable. Let them use all the buckets and shovels and water they need.
- Back off. I think Amelia was pleased that I was nearby and curious, but she didn’t need or want any more extensive involvement.
- Take a tour. Fairy houses are fleeting, admire every inch of it when the construction crew is ready to share.