“Put down the hammer” I tell my 5 year old daughter. She is not sure if she is going to obey me yet, you can see her working it out. Option 1 is that she could put down the hammer and go get the chainsaw. Of course the chainsaw can do way more damage if used properly. It could be epic, possibly even end up on the evening news: 5 year old destroys EVIL with CHAINSAW. Oh the possiblities. We could always buy a new house. However she also realizes that she can’t pull the cord on the chainsaw and that could be a problem. She likes the smell of gas and destruction. Option 2 of course is to keep the hammer, take a few quick swings toward the christmas lights and deal with the consequences. She would get in trouble for not doing what her father asked her to but she would show those christmas lights a thing or two.
Dad decides to go with secret option 3, coming off the ladder and taking the hammer from her and putting it back on his workbench. Dad is crafty, he has to be because his children love to destroy his stuff. “Pulverized” is a term that is used way to much in this house on a daily basis.
We are in the front yard doing the annual putting up the lights. I used to do this alone, just some soft heavy metal tunes and my thoughts to keep me company. The peace, the quiet, the crisp air swirling around my multi colored work of art. Then I had kids and they started getting mobile. Then dad started staying home and they discovered that he is the most awesome guy ever, way cooler than Rambo but just below ice cream for dinner. They quickly learned that when they are with dad, awesome stuff happens. Like getting access to a hammer and many fun little lights that pop when you hit them.
Sometimes I worry about this, about my daughter being raised by me day to day. I am worried that she plays with hammers and drills instead of pink frilly things that easily rip. I worry that I’m exposing her to a very masculine world without taking the time to enjoy a nice cup of immaginary tea. Sure, we do that stuff from time to time. But you are more likely to find us on a hike or another adventure than sitting at home playing tinkle fairy olympics. And when we do play tinkle fairy olympics there usually ends up being a bad guy and my daughter has to go grab the hammer to protect her “minions” as she now calls her dolls.
It makes me feel much better about things when Mom takes her to paint her nails, do thier hair or other “girly things”. As I stand up on the ladder putting up the lights, a thought occurs to me. Maybe I should stop worrying about my daughter becoming a Tom Boy. Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing, not a bad thing at all. I’m teaching her that life is about the experience, not about how you look or what you buy. I am teaching her self confidence, the confidence to pick up a hammer and be self relient. I realize that this is a good balance to all the other things that will be thrown at her as she grows up. One day she’ll worry about the type of jeans she wears and the make up that she puts on. One day she’ll fall for a boy but when she does, I hope that I have given her enough to know that her world is what she makes of it, not of what someone thinks of it.
I feel good about this, great in fact. I am sure that the lessons that I teach her on a day to day basis will teach her to value herself and thus, keep her off the pole.
As I head down the ladder I realize that I didn’t put the hammer away high enough and it’s time to check the damage that she has done to the car. I would rather work out dents in a bumper now than deal with low self esteem later. When raising confident daughters, as in construction, the hammer again proves to be invaluable.