We made Bob (or Roberta) the builder proud…


Friday saw me start to attack the rowing boat so I unpacked the brand new sander and started work. The boys slowly came out to find out what on earth all the noise was but also to find out what on earth their mother was doing and for a few mins they stood in awe in front of me whilst I merrily sanded a bit of the boat. I stopped and explained that we needed to use a machine to sand down the dangerous corner as the wood was splintering and we needed to seal it with varnish so the water wouldn’t get into it. Hubbie came out with screwdrivers and got into the boat to take out all of the upturned screws that used to hold things like a seat in though the wood had long since rotten away. The boat is fab but there are some bits we needed to make safe so the boys wouldn’t hurt themselves…

So picture us, me with sander and Hubbie with screwdriver and 3 boys standing and watching. This soon turned to 3 boys all asking ‘Can I help??’ and ‘I want a go!!’ and so Hubbie and I had to come up with some ideas fast as they had picked up the screwdrivers and were aiming for the boat.

I asked Hubbie to find a bit of old wood and drill some holes in in so he did…

We put a screw in and showed them how to use the screwdriver and they were all soon pretty excited and having a go!

Here’s Henry having a go and Tobes in the background investigating putting a screw into the hole.

I then went into the garage and found the old table legs that had nuts and bolts on so I gave the boys a set of spanners and they had to find out which one would fit the nut and they then had to unscrew it! My boys love a good problem and this kept them fascinated for ages. They did find the spanner that fitted and after a few arguments they all managed to undo one!

Here’s Ollie having a go. The learned which way to go to undo the nut and which way tightened it. We talked about clockwise and anticlockwise and I’m not sure any of them understood it but it’s good to give them ideas to mull over in their heads.

Ollie has a lovely pincer movement so this is fab for fine motor skill –ever the teacher!

Here’s the part of the boat I wanted to sand. As you can see it’s very flaky and the boys couls catch themselves on the shards of wood. Also it isn’t sealed so it’ll just get worse and that screw needs to come out!

Here’s me sanding. I’m laughing because Hubbie was being all David Bailey and I’m not normally in front of the camera as I’m the one who takes the photos.

Here’s the nasty bit sanded down flat. Yes it’s not the prettiest bit of wood you’ve ever seen but once it’s stained and varnished it will be safe and waterproof and that’s all I’m really after.

So what have the boys learned about the boat this week? They’ve learned that it’s going to take ages, that Rome may not have been built in a day and that Mummy is going to take weeks to sand down the whole of the boat. This is good for them to learn though in an age where computer games give instant results as they are seeing the planning, the trying out of ideas, teamwork between Mummy and Daddy and so far, they’re still with me. They’ve seen a drill make holes in wood and they’ve used a screwdriver to attach 2 bits of wood together. They know there are 2 types of screwdrivers (why??) that come in many different sizes and that they go in clockwise and out anti clockwise. They’ve found the right spanner for the right nut after finding lots that weren’t and they’ve argued lots over who got to have that right spanner but then, with them, that’s normal! I think that something else very important is that they’ve seen Mummy use the power tools and learned that Bob the builder may well have been ‘Roberta’. (Yes there’s Wendy but it is all about Bob really). I’ve used the saw to take off a little of my workroom benches so they are the right height and now I’m using the sander. All this I think is really healthy.

I can list what they’ve learned but what about me? I get the satisfaction of making them a toy. It may never look like the ones in the glossy magazines but I don’t think that matters to the boys. I can look at it through my adult eyes and criticise the fact that it will looked homemade, the mast may not fit perfectly and the edges are a little lop sided due to enthusiastic sanding but I have to take a step back and try to see it through my boys’ eyes. To them it will be the ocean going galleon that they will save from the amazingly large octopus, it will be the fast rowing boat that will win the race against other boats but it will still be, as it has been, the thing that they and all they friends play with no matter what the weather is. They don’t have rose coloured glasses as such but they do take an item for what it is and their imagination does the rest. Maybe we underestimate children or maybe we’ve just forgotten..?

We’ve had comments about expecting a flood from our neighbour but we’re really enjoying the boat so much that after the Easter Egg hunt and all the boys being on it at least 1 parent has said to us they are looking for their won boat for their back garden. I’m loving it and seeing the smiles on the boys faces makes it all worthwhile. I’m not sure how long our handiwork will last but then that in itself will be another problem to solve –how do we fix the boat? But then I’m not worried about that as the boys love it and that’s another challenge for another day…

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About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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