I am working on a Thomas the Tank Engine mock-up that fits in my son's wagon so he can have a steam engine to conduct for Halloween when he goes trick-or-treating as an engineer. He's pretty nuts about trains, so it's a lot of fun to be working on something he's so excited about.
I'm building this thing out of plywood, so I am spending some good time in my Dad's garage using his tools. Jonah loves being in the workshop, and he tries to help with whatever I am doing.
One thing I have made up my mind about as a dad is that I want Jonah to know not just how special he is to me, but also that I need him as much as he needs me. Because of that, I always try to make space in whatever I am doing for Jonah to be involved.
If we're baking cookies, I let him turn on the kitchenaid and dump in the dry ingredients and unwrap the blocks of margarine (and sneak tastes of the batter...don't tell mom though...). When we're in the workshop, I let him help me mark pencil lines for measurements, sand wood with a sanding block, or let him paint wood scraps with the same paint I am using for our Thomas project.
It might not be teaching him rocket science, but what Jonah is learning is that we will do things together, and that we will help each other. It's a little thing, but I already see Jonah jumping into action without being asked to help when we start something new, and it's because he believes that he's capable and that he's needed. He's not even three yet, and he already is proactive about helping and working together.
If you are a parent, or anyone who works with kids or youth, make time in your life for little things like this. They pay huge dividends down the road, and it's amazing to see kids blossom with some personal investment and encouragement. They never turn out perfect, but lessons learned well when you're little or young end up lessons lived well when you're old.
I will post a picture of our Thomas mock-up next week in time for Halloween. He's looking more like a train every day!