My neighbor, bless his heart, is retired and likes to tinker because he doesn’t have much else to do. So on any given day (except Sunday of course because he’s a stickler for keeping the Sabbath day holy), he could potentially be out there all day banging on the lawn mower, organizing the tools in his garage, sweeping his entire driveway and the sidewalk or whatever else that he needs to do that’s been done a hundred times before. So when I heard someone tinkering outside my window all day again today, I didn’t bother looking out my window because I was sure that it was my neighbor again, taking care of some menial task to occupy his day and time.
When I finally took a glance outside I was surprised to see parts of No. 1’s Toyota Camry spread out across the lawn. At first I thought I had been so involved in my work that I had missed an errant missile hitting his car and scattering it and possibly him in a million directions.
My first thought was, ‘What happened?’ My second thought was, ‘Oh man, I think Armageddon has arrived and I still don’t have enough food in my storage to last us through the imminent famine and destruction that’s about to happen!’
Fortunately it wasn’t anything that drastic. And, I have come to the realization that my son is a lot like Super Mom in the sense that when he puts his mind to something, nothing will deter him from finishing what he started. It makes me nervous when Super Mom takes on a task that involves power tools and punching holes into perfectly good walls but that’s a story for another day.
It turns out, No. 1 kept hearing a rattling sound inside the trunk of his car. Unable to locate the noise after ‘eyeballing’ the situation, he decided that he was going to take matters into his own hands and take apart the entire trunk; and he did…completely apart.
Here’s the thing about me. When we lived in Samoa and my younger brother took things apart like the radio I would freak out like the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island because after all, we lived on a small dot in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean and that was our only contact to the outside world…kind of. Nothing was more unnerving than walking in and seeing a device that should have its guts inside the case, pulled apart and strewn across the dining room table. I imagined that the poor thing was pleading with me to put its guts back together again.
I’m not mechanically inclined (Super Mom likes to rub it in my face) so when I saw No. 1 outside with a screwdriver in one hand, a wrench in the other and his car asking why her butt had been disassembled and exposed on the lawn I nearly lost my lunch. But here’s the funny thing; rather than picking up the phone and dialing a body repair shop (that’s my usual response – call a professional), I sat down, took a breath and said to myself, ‘My kid’s got some moxie’.
A few hours later, he had identified the problem, figured out where he needed to go to get the part, and had that trunk back on and ready to hit the road again. It taught me a valuable lesson – sometimes our kids are capable of things that we have no inclination or the capacity for. Sometimes we think our kids can’t do something and we hold them back them from doing it without giving them the opportunity to learn and grow on their own. If I had known that No. 1 was going to do that before he had even attempted it I would have put a stop to it before he even tried. I know that for a fact. But he took the initiative and he might have gotten in over his head but the point is, if we don’t allow them to make a few mistakes here and there we may be hindering their progress or preventing them from learning a lesson that they needed to learn on their own.
I’m proud of my son for sticking with it; for taking the bull by the horns and learning to tackle something on his own. Yes, I’m sad that he’s growing up and finding his independence, but that’s what being a parent is all about, right? You teach them correct principles and let them learn to govern themselves (Joseph Smith, Jr).
I will never take apart the toaster, the DVR or the ceiling fan because I know that I’m going to screw things up worse. But I know my limitations and I’m okay with that. I think my son is just finding that when it comes to tinkering with things like my neighbor, he doesn’t have as many limitations as I do. And I’m fine with that too.