May 19, 2006

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Bobivs the Bvilder Edition


This weekend is going to be crunch time for the construction of the Eight Year Old's model of the Circus Maximus for school. Which is to say that the damned thing is due next Friday and, other than mapping out the dimensions, we really haven't started building it yet. Michael's is going to make a bundle off of me very shortly.

There is a terrible, terrible temptation for parents of children this age to simply take over a project like this and do it for them, a temptation which I am struggling mightily to resist. When I was about the gel's age, my class was made to construct weather-vanes. Dad and I took on the project and by the time we got through, we had the best damn weather-vane in the entire class. In fact, it was so good that it got displayed in the school library. However, I wound up feeling guilty and sheepish about the whole business because I knew that in the end I hadn't contributed much more to the construction process than to stand around and hold things. Dad certainly meant well, but I don't want to repeat that process here.

On the other hand, it wouldn't be fair to leave the gel completely to her own devices either: she's never done anything like this before and wouldn't have the slightest clue even where to begin. As a result, she would only wind up feeling frustrated and foolish. Again, not really the goal of the exercise.

It's a tricky path to navigate, to be sure, but I like to think that a significant first step in doing so is to actually be aware of the dangers involved and to keep them in mind at all times. In order to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of too much or too little parental participation, my plan is to maintain the roles of both master architect and construction foreman, but to try and explain as much as possible of these things to the gel as we go along. I will also leave to her most of the actual hands-on duties, apart from cutting and the like.

We'll see how it goes.

Posted by Robert at May 19, 2006 09:51 AM | TrackBack

Yeah. Like you'll be able to resist building it yourself.

The key is to view yourself as the architect. Lay out the plans, show her the technique of how to do certain things, and then make her do the assembly. She's the contractor.

Posted by: The Colossus at May 19, 2006 09:57 AM

That's the general idea. For instance, I had a brilliant flash about creating rows of bleachers using stacked strips of balsa of different widths. I don't much care to let her loose with the Exact-O, but she's perfectly capable of doing the gluing.

I also had the idea of creating all the arches and whatnot on the exterior by drawing them on a strip of cardboard or veneer and pasting that on the structure. The gel also is perfectly capable of doing all that once I show her the basic template.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at May 19, 2006 10:12 AM

I know what you are going thru as I have lived in the world of Cub Scout Pinewood Derby racing. For my sons, I provided basic design choices, let them pick out the decals they wanted and after I roughed out the shape with the bandsaw I turned them loose with a rasp and sandpaper. Painting and everything else was on them with me standing by if things got out of control. I would recommend the same approach i.e. you handle the dangerous part and she handle everything else.

Posted by: mike at May 19, 2006 10:59 AM

I think about a couple of projects I did with my day -- a working volcano I built in 4th grade (using some kind of black powder he found to make the sparks/ashes), and a giant mouse maze in 6th grade.

Taught me how to use a jigsaw and a circular saw. I had to be about 10-12 years old or so, and after showing me the proper way to use the saws, he was completely cool with letting me saw stuff.

I can't imagine parents today letting go in that regard. Our parents' generation had considerably more sangfroid than our generation does.

Or, he didn't love me. One of the two.

Posted by: The Colossus at May 19, 2006 11:15 AM

Uh "Dad, not "day" . . . typo.

Posted by: The Colossus at May 19, 2006 11:16 AM

My dad helped me with my pinebox racer - but I still got to use the bandsaw and the drillpress, he just watched VERY carefully. But I think I was 11 - don't imagine that at 8 he'd've been quite that lenient.

And my car kicked the butt of all the boys' cars. Dad was so proud.

Posted by: beth at May 19, 2006 11:39 AM

Heh. It strikes me that eight is a particularly vulnerable age for parental overbearing and that things get better later on. I expect in another year or two I'll have to be slowing her down rather than prodding her along.

The first Halloween we lived in our current neighborhood, we went around to somebody's house where the dad was helping his high school-aged daughter put together a fully functional catapult for a science project. I hope the HS is still teaching that course by the time the Llama-ettes get there!

Posted by: Robbo the LB at May 19, 2006 01:06 PM

Had a similar "problem" with my own Dad in the 6th grade science class. We were building model rockets out of PVC pipe, though.

His taking over the project had more to do with the pure enjoyment of it rather than any sense of over protection. I didn't mind too much, though. The rocket looked great and I was far more proud of the Old Man than of anything I could have put together at that age.


Posted by: Scuba at May 19, 2006 02:34 PM

"we went around to somebody's house where the dad was helping his high school-aged daughter put together a fully functional catapult" Look out.. here comes Robbo and his medival siege weapons....

I recommend a Trebuchet - plenty of plans on the internet, and if you are going to build a catapult, you might as well build the Rolls Royce.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at May 20, 2006 02:37 PM