It’s a tough balance that parents walk, between letting a child learn to do things that might risk injury and keeping them safe. And so many things jump directly from not-doing-at-all to could-lose-a-digit with no room in between. Like axes.
Cameron’s been wanting to try his hand at chopping wood for some time. I’ve let him before, but not really. Too much hovering. Okay, you hit the log, that’s enough! This time, he knew we needed some kindling for the fire he was in charge of making. And he asked, ever so politely.
Okay, I agreed. But you need to listen closely.
I explained to him quietly how to do it. If you just swing the axe all around you’re going to hurt someone. And hurt when done by an axe usually means a lot of blood and a trip to the ER. We talked about hitting downwards, that if you follow through on the swing and miss … axe meets leg. Hooray! I scared him. But not out of doing this. He was a little disappointed that he could only use the small hatchet, not the tall axe with the wicked blade that he’d seen me and Leif using.
Alright, so I hovered.
He learned fairly quickly, producing a few bits of kindling for the log cabin part of his fire.
No digits were lost. The axe wasn’t embedded anywhere but in the wood where it belonged.
And yes, he built and lit the fire himself with very little guidance. We’ve been over the triangle (heat, fuel, air) and safety rules many times, and this wasn’t the first fire he built. But it was the first he’d chopped wood for.