I spent most of yesterday on the operational end of a shovel. Several hours of backbreaking work was required to alleviate a drainage issue. I’ve had a few landscapers stop by to offer a quote to fix the drainage problem. It wasn’t that I felt any of the quotes were unreasonable. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the landscapers. It wasn’t that I felt we couldn’t afford to have the drainage problem fixed. However, I just could not feel good about hiring a landscaper for this job for some reason. Now I understand the two reasons very well.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a dad that did everything himself. My dad was a mechanic by trade, but he was also a plumber, electrician, carpenter, landscaper, brick mason, and so much more. The thought of hiring someone to do something around our house never crossed his mind. I’m sure that the fact we didn’t have the means to pay someone every time something needed fixing played into his thought process. But I think it was just a small part of his thought process. He was the epitome of a do-it-yourselfer.
As I said, I was fortunate to grow up in such a household. As a little toddler, I watched my dad fix frozen water pipes. As a young boy, I watched and helped my dad rip out rotten flooring and rebuild it into a solid foundation for a stable home. As a teenager, I watched and help my dad maintain our vehicles and fix broken lawn mowers. I watched and helped my dad do so much around our home that I really can’t devote the time in an article to communicate it all. In my thirteen years of parenting, I’ve been asked many times from my children how I know how to do and fix things around the house. Without exception, my answer is “your pawpaw taught me.”
So yesterday I started this major landscaping initiative myself, without hiring a landscaper. And now, with an aching back and very sore knees and muscles I find myself very glad that I didn’t hire a landscaper. In fact, I can identify two very important reasons that I’m happy with my choice to do it myself.
Those two reasons? Jacob and Noah.
With only the promise of a good breakfast and lunch at their favorite little diner, those two worked hard with me all day. We put in a total of nine hours together, seven of which were devoted to digging out a drainage ditch. It was a wonderful day with my boys. They worked so hard, stayed very focused, and endured through the physical labor until it was time to call it a day. They thought all they were getting from the day was breakfast and lunch at their favorite diner, but I’m convinced they learned so much more.
Let me share with you a few lessons, that I know from experience, my boys learned yesterday while wielding those shovels in that ditch.
It wasn’t long into our ditch digging that the boys realized just how big this job was going to be. It also wasn’t long before the blisters started popping up on our hands. Then our backs started hurting, mine long before theirs. Through it all, my boys developed a sense of perseverance. A drive to finish the task, no matter how difficult the messy middle.
Dependance on others is rarely a good thing. In fact, the only exception to that rule that comes to mind is Jesus. At times dependence on others is unavoidable. My boys learned their first lesson in independence. Sure, someones else probably knows how to fix our drainage problem. Sure, someone else probably has better equipment to do the job. Sure, we can afford to pay someone to do it for us. But what about the value we receive by doing it ourselves. My boys will likely not always be in a position that they can afford to pay someone, therefore I want them the understand independence to a level that they can do it themselves.
Throughout the course of the day, I heard my boys make several comments about the magnitude of work that lay ahead of us. While we didn’t finish completely, by the end of the day, their comments had turned to amazement at how much we had accomplished. I could recognize in their comments and see on their faces a confidence that said “hey, we can do this.” My boys gained confidence in themselves that can become a driving force that propels them through all sorts of difficulties in life.
Question: How do you include your children in activities that teach them valuable life lessons? When they are asked as an adult, maybe by their children, how often will they answer “my dad taught me”? How do you instill characteristics like perseverance, independence, and confidence into your children? Share your answers in the comments below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.