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My husband studied engineering and loves doing practical things: building things, fixing things and restoring things. He grew up spending hours in his father’s workshop and he often tells the boys stories of the machinery his dad would let him use or the things they built together. So now as we have been renovating our house, 1 of the big priorities was a decent size space where he could keep tools and machinery to build and actualise the amazing ideas he has had for our home and our lives. Many wives would probably roll their eyes at husbands needing such a space (aka the man cave) in the family home especially if they know, its more of an excuse for escapism and video games. My husband, however, has proven over the years that any space and time I afford him alone in his workshop always yields a generous return. He has built us a 4 poster bed, 2 x 3m dining room tables, benches to match...and I could go on.
The boys all love spending time with him in his workshop. He often helps them make special things - here Jude made a marble run for his friend Matt's birthday party.
It was so much more meaningful for Jude and Matt that Jude had made it (at least partially, himself). Yes, the thought of my boys playing with blades and drills and saws is completely nauseating to me but somehow, the beautiful things it brings out in them are too precious not to risk an injury!
When the weather is cold, it's a perfect excuse to pull out their awesome camo overalls...
If the weather is fine, shirts will be removed and tucked into the back of one’s pants. Ethan turns into this super-responsible “I’m so mature - I’ve got a job to do!” kind of boy. Jude loves to tidy and clean and organise shelves! JP finds this particularly delightful seeing as he is neat and ordered and loves seeing a child demonstrating the same trait. Nate is the stereotypical “mans man” even at age 2. He can amuse himself for half an hour just drilling into the same piece of wood or pretending to use a screwdriver to fix his bike or trying to remove a nail with the back of a hammer. The main criteria is that it is dad's real hammer or screwdriver or spanner or drill. I have tried buying them the look-alike Bosch toys and it is simply a waste of our time and money. They just know the difference and it's only cool if it is the adult version and it really works and is therefore potentially dangerous!
It must have something to do with the feeling of importance and manliness that is appealing to him. If he gets tired of a certain task, he just sticks his shoulders back and cruises around with his dad’s drill, pretending it isn’t nearly as heavy as it is! For all 3 of them, time with dad in his man-cave feeds their identity as masculine and strong and needed. It boosts their confidence and their respect and love for their father. This is obviously, the ideal outcome - what we are all hoping for as the 3 little ducklings tootle off behind their dad into the garage. Nevertheless, for JP, it can be incredibly frustrating having 3 shadows all trying to HELP you when what you actually crave is space so we have to make sure we let him have some alone time in his man-cave too! Sometimes as parents we have to weigh up whether this is family time or escapism time (both are necessary in a household of 5!). He loves working on projects but he also loves completing them and with a great amount of attention to detail so if tasks are delayed or expectations aren’t met or the boys get grumpy, we all lose!
Anyway these holidays, we have had a few projects on the go. The first was a request from myself, for a homework table in the playroom. I want a long table that can fit 3 chairs with their own work space so that we start Grade 1 and the long road of homework ahead of us on the best footing possible. This way, I will be able to oversee homework from the kitchen and can easily help 3 different little people with 3 different little tasks and life in the rest of the house isn't dependent on their homework being finished and packed away. In our house, function always wins!
The second project was the outside paving. Yes, we moved into our house a year ago and the paving is only happening now. Well, that is what renovation projects are all about, aren’t they? I loved seeing the boys getting stuck in, helping the team move and stack the cobbles, working together and flexing their ever-growing muscles (and egos).
Our third and probably final project for the holidays will be building a brick pizza oven outside with the bricks that were pulled up from the old paving. It will be amazing if this works - will mean I can bake breads in the old-fashioned way and we can have pizza evenings with lots of friends and homemade pizza. Not sure how much the boys will be able to help on this one but time will tell...