K likes to build things. Ever since he was a toddler, he has been fascinated by how things are constructed. Big things, little things, complicated things, simple things… he loves them all.
Through the years, he has often been found building things. First, it was simple towers made out of blocks. Later, Duplo was the building tool of choice. He graduated to proper LEGO bricks very quickly, and that particular obsession still remains despite the introduction of wood and nails and power tools.
As he gets older, the things he constructs for himself have changed. Where once he was content to stack five blocks on top of each other and laugh hysterically after knocking it over, now he spends countless hours fiddling with miniscule pieces and connecting them to the LEGO NXT processor, followed by countless more hours hunched over the computer keyboard programming the software for his creations.
He loves LEGO, that boy of ours. In all its incarnations.
He builds other things, too. He builds with wood and nails and power tools, or sometimes just with paper and tape and glue. Lately, we’ve been building with Styrofoam and an old electrician’s helmet. Halloween is coming, you see, and we tend to build our own costumes around here.
Over the years, I have picked up the habit of “strewing” for the kids. It’s an idea I borrowed from the homeschoolers and unschoolers whereby you strew things around your house in a very intentional manner so as to entice your kids into a new avenue of learning.
A while back, maybe 5 years ago, I “strewed” the house with all things bird related. Little tiny bird nests and birds from the dollar store. Kits to build your own birdhouse. Kits to build your own bird feeder. Bird stickers. Bird storybooks. A bird identification game. And of course bird nature books to help us identify the birds in our backyard.
One of the joys of “strewing” things around your house is watching the kids find them over the span of a few days or a wees, and having them come running to you with eyes shining brightly, eager to read or learn or explore or try or do whatever it is that you left oh-so-casually lying around the house.
Of course the down side is that sometimes, the kids just aren’t interested. You have to be prepared for a phenomenal lack of interest. Sometimes, I’ll force the issue and simply announce that we are doing this together. Other times, I just tuck the item away for a rainy day when someone, somewhere announces “Mom, I’m bored!”
Eventually, being the bright kids they are, K and B figured out that this Mama now has a whole stash of things to do that were, once upon a time, strewn. And, being the grand old ages of 9 and 11, and allowed to use tools appropriately and safely on their very own workbench, they know just what to do with some of those kits of things to build that I’ve tucked away again after a few weeks of being ignored.
And sometimes, just sometimes, a young man of 11 who likes to build things sneaks downstairs and builds and paints and plots and schemes and leaves his mother a lovely little gift with a note attached that reads “It’s because I know how much you like birds.”
I do like birds. I like birds a lot.
And I absolutely love young men of 11 who build their Mamas little decorative bird houses painted in their favourite colour for no reason at all.