Last weekend I asked the Teenager to put together a fire pit I purchased when I was preparing to move into our house. I had visions of us sitting outside in on a cool evening or morning drinking hot chocolate and enjoying the fire in the pit and each other’s company. Then life happened and two falls and winters later, I finally made it a priority to put the pit together. I sealed the deal by asking friends over. You know when you invite kids over to roast marshmallows and make s’mores you’d better be ready.
The Teenager is my designated Mr. Fixit/ handyman. Sometimes we need to challenge our children beyond their current capacity. I had Honeygirl and Little Dude bring the box in and The Teenager went to work. He pulled out the directions, at this age he doesn’t know the man code about not reading directions, and began putting the pit together. He experienced some frustrations at one point and called on his siblings to assist him which they willingly did. Hold this! Lift that! Then I heard he yell out, “you never do anything right!” I called him into my room at this point to have a conversation about that statement. I started out by saying, “one day you will become a father and as a father one thing you don’t want to tell your children is they can never do anything right.” I asked him to imagine me saying that to him. He was having a difficult time but I never yelled at him or took over the project. In teaching our children, we sometimes learn lessons ourselves. I am definitely learning patience and temperance. He apologized and they made up. He also understood my point. I hope he builds his children and my children up instead of tearing them down. The power of our words is just powerful.
Most of what I do with him is intentional. He turned 14 a few weeks ago and at this point I have fewer years of influence and teachable moments ahead of me. I told him he was putting this pit together for several different reasons. I want him to have a sense of accomplishment, I want him to learn to ask for help, I want him to work with his siblings, I want them to work with him, I want him to be the man his wife will depend on to make things happen, and I want him to experience frustration in a controlled environment, I want him to know I am here for him and I want him to know he can do anything. I didn’t just start this journey, it started when he was a baby but now we have moved on to bigger things that have bigger rewards.
I ended up going in to help him out. He was almost done but needed an extra hand and words of encouragement. When he was done, we all oohed and aahed at the fire pit and then began the task of getting wood to burn in the fire pit.
As I said before, I bought the pit a couple of years ago. Last year I bought wood to burn in the pit. It has been sitting in my garage waiting. I thought the wood was too big to burn in the pit so I decided the boys and I needed to go to the local hardware store and buy and axe. One our way there the Little Dude had a mild session of wigging out. He said he didn’t want an axe in the house because he was afraid he would get chopped into little pieces. I am not sure what he has been watching on TV but I assured him that was not our short term or long term goal. We merely wanted to chop some pieces of wood. I asked the kindly gentlemen which axe I should buy for the task at hand. The said a 3lb axe would do just fine. The teenager and I both decided to go with what he said. He was the expert right? Well let me tell you that a 3lb axe doesn’t cut through a thin tree limb. The Teenager must have chopped that piece of wood for quite a while and never made any progress. He did receive lots of cheers from his siblings. Thankfully, earlier in the day, I had purchased a fire log that catches fire and burns easily. Oh, the axe did cut through that thing.
The friends showed up, it was a cold enough evening with a few sprinkles and they were all excited. The Teenager made everybody stay in the house as he attempted to get the wood to light. I have never lit a fire before in my entire life other than on a gas stove. My ex lit the fires in our fire place and I now have a gas burning fireplace. I did know we might need some paper, smaller pieces of wood that might catch quicker and then the wood. Again, I am thankful for the fire log because it saved the day. The kids roasted marshmallows and ate their s’mores.
As the younger ones went back in the house The Teenager pulled up a chair with me to enjoy the fire. He then began to talk to me about things that have been on his mind. I love when my kids share their heart with me. All in all I would say the building of the fire pit was a great experience. We learned, we laughed and in the end we still had respect and love. What more can you ask for?