A few years ago, near the beginning of our homeschool journey, a notice went out on a Yahoo group about a homeschool class at someone's house. She was going to help the kids make art out of garbage! Ok it was recyclables, not actual trash. But art was something we were lacking in our homeschool and to have someone help us would be great! So we signed up.
We went to Ros and Bia's giant house and were pleased to find an arts and crafts room upstairs. Ros had great ideas on making interesting art projects out of recyclables. We were told to bring some catalogs that first day. We were somehow going to make baskets out of these. The girls ripped out pages of their American Girl doll catalog and rolled them up around a dowel. And then, it happened.
Ros handed my children a hot glue gun.
Agreed, Elmer's glue would not have held this. But they are mere children, Ros! How could you? And we only just met. Here are the thoughts running through my head:
"Ok, stay calm. I barely know Ros and shouldn't yell at her, in her own house that she has graciously opened." "Can I shriek with fear?" "Can I grab the glue gun and with my control-freakishness say that I will glue for them?" "How much will the trip to the Emergency Room cost?"
While I struggled with the apparent lack in Ros' judgement, Lainie had already glued her papers into rolls. Oh. OK. She wasn't blistered. She still had her eyes. (How could a glue gun shoot out your eyes? I don't know, but it could.) Granted, Lea needed some help because of her fine motor challenges. But she did WAY more than I would have let her try! And she, too, was fine. They were more than fine. They were in fact quite proud of themselves! They continued rolling the pages and gluing, and then glued them together to make awesome baskets. We went home with a sense of accomplishment! Well, they did. I went home thinking I was a freak.
So the next week, you would think I would be more calm. You would think I would have remembered that it's ok for the kids to try something dangerous, since there are adults there teach them how to do it safely. I thought I was fine.
Then Ros handed them hammers, giant nails and awls.
What? This was supposed to be make-a-person-out-of-plastic-bottles day! Where was the glue gun? I was ready for the glue gun. Ros explained that the bottles would be held together with string, so we had to punch holes in the them.
"Ok I can handle this." "No I can't." "They will make holes in their skin." "They will lose an eye for sure with this one." "How will I explain this in the ER? Yes doctor, I gave my babies sharp objects to poke things with."
By the time I was done with this silent rant, they had both poked some holes in their bottles. And they were fine. They STILL had their eyes! They weren't even bleeding.
We left that day with the cutest plastic people I ever did see! And I came away from these few weeks with something arguably even better: a trust in my children and their ability to try things. Their excitement to try something new. The fact that they don't have to grow up to be the unadventurous, scared Control Freak that I am! It's ok to let them try something that seems dangerous. Isn't it in fact better to let them try it with me present? And most importantly, I learned that our homeschooling journey is just that...OUR journey. It isn't about what I want for them, what I think they should do. It's about taking an interest they have and running with it.
The whole Glue Gun Incident sparked months and months of glue gunning at our house. My girls made houses out of shoeboxes for people they made. They made Barbie furniture. They made rooms for American Girl dolls; how ironic, since it all started with that catalog. It was still a bit scary for me, but the hours and hours of fun they had made it all worth it. I am still unadventurous myself, but I try hard to let their adventurous spirits shine through.