Please welcome to the hotseat a blogger who regularly inspires me with photos of family farm life and wonderful creative projects (as well as an exciting, extended family caravan adventure last year), Kate of Foxs Lane, to share her thoughts on making childhood memorable…
While we are deep in the trenches of parenting our three through their childhood, I often wonder what moments will create long lasting memories for them. What feelings they will hold on to forever. Which experiences they will draw upon later in life. Obviously there are the key ingredients like love, respect, adventure, family, community, creativity and experience, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about knowledge. More specifically, about the knowledge and tools needed to perform practical tasks.
When I was about eleven years old my parents renovated our family home to give us each our own bedroom. I was asked what colour I would like my new room to be and when I replied that I would like it to be blue, my mum went to an interiors shop nearby and, with help from a designer friend, chose matching wallpaper, paint and bedding. She then had a handyman come out and put it all together. The job was perfect, she didn’t have to dirty her hands and I’m sure I wasn’t allowed anywhere near my bedroom until it was time to move in. I’m not blaming my mum for this: my bedroom was gorgeous, my dad worked crazy long hours, and she was raising the four of us virtually singlehandedly.
Recently, when my 11-year old was ready to move out of the bedroom she shared with her sisters, the only spare room available was an ugly store room. She camped in there for a few months, but dedicated the entire first term break to fixing her new room up. Without any encouragement from us, she started by cutting out and collecting ideas for her dream room, so when the time came she was prepared.
We started at a paint shop where she chose her own paint colour: white for the walls and bluey-green for the cupboards and doors. With guidance from her Dad she then sanded the walls, filled in some gaps, taped the windows and painted her room. It wasn’t a quick process but she stuck with it. She was patient and meticulous.
Next came the floor. She chose the Lino and Bren showed her how to take the old Lino out, lay it over the new, trace the shape, cut it and then lay it in her room. At this stage she overtook me in terms of renovation skills and knowledge.
With the bones in place it was time to fit her room out. She spent hours online choosing beds and desks and chairs she liked, measuring to see if they would fit, and eventually she went on a buying trip to Melbourne with her dad, picked the things out and brought them home.
It goes without saying that she helped carry all the pieces from the car. She helped follow the crazily complicated instructions for assembling flat-packed furniture. And she did most of the assembling herself. Her granddad said he went behind her and tightened the screws but I’m not certain that’s true.
The bedcovers, wall decorations and perhaps a little couch, are still to come. She knows exactly what she wants, now we just need the time to source it or make it ourselves. It may take a while, but patience is a great lesson to learn too.
I’m really proud of her.
And I’m jealous of her skills.
And I’m thrilled that she owns these skills now. When she’s older and moved out (yikes), she’ll be able to renovate her own place. She’ll be able to do things herself rather than think the only way is to call for help like I do.
And she’ll be able to bake her own bread, cook so many recipes and make some up too. She’ll be able to grow her own food and use a sewing machine.
And hopefully she’ll be able to look at a problem as an opportunity for creativity.
I’m now convinced that while being a child is THE most important ingredient of a childhood, learning the skills of adulthood are pretty important too.
Kate is mother to three gorgeous girlies and wife to one farmer boy. She is an organic farmer, maker, baker and blogger who lives down Foxs Lane.