As a Mum of 3 boys, it can sometimes be a challenge to spend 1-to-1 time with my kids. It’s not through lack of wanting to, more through life for a family of 5 being hectic! We are at a stage where our middle son is preparing for exams and is needing lots of support with that, our oldest boy is a pre-teen and I’m so conscious of continuing to nurture our relationship as he enters this notoriously tricky stage. So, as of late, I noticed our youngest boy craving a little attention just for himself. This has manifest through slightly hyper behaviour and boundary pushing, so rather than tell him off repeatedly, I prayed recently for creative inspiration and a solution to what had the potential to be a horrible situation where I was feeling like an epic failure of a Mum, pulled in every direction, and him feeling like he didn’t know his place in the family or that he didn’t deserve any of my time.
So, while walking around the supermarket recently, with my gorgeous boy on my mind, I noticed some wild bird feed on sale. I recalled how during a recent trip to Scotland, my son had spent an hour each morning sitting on the kitchen bench of our log cabin taking note of all the birds he could identify on the bird feeders hanging on the trees just outside the window. He was truly mesmerised by his task and I was amazed at the length of his stillness and calm! Hmmmm….an idea was beginning to fledge in my mind, so I grabbed a bag of the seeds which were only £1.25 and continued on with my shopping.
I paid for my groceries and on my way back to the car I noticed some tiny plants for sale. That’s right! One of my son’s new year’s resolutions had been to do some gardening and grow flowers. I didn’t have time to go back in store to buy some flowers, but I thought that the little project that was brewing in my mind might just be the thing to kickstart his gardening ambitions.
Later that afternoon after homeworks and dinner had been cleared away and a cut elbow tended to, I asked my son if he would like to collaborate on a special project with me. Just me and him. His face lit up, and the tears still running down his little cheeks from the elbow wound suddenly stopped and he gave me a big hug. I took that as a positive sign that he wanted to work together! I showed him the bird food, an old chipped teacup and saucer and some ribbon, suggesting we fashion a DIY bird feeder for the garden. He loved the idea and when I mentioned using the dangerous, hot glue gun he became even more excited by the project.
We plugged in the glue gun and while it heated up I took the opportunity to explain that it would be very hot and would burn if we got the glue on our skin so we really needed to be careful and work as a team. He nodded in agreement. We laid out all our items and Mr. Enthusiastic excitedly danced on the spot while we waited on the glue gun. This really is a very quick and simple craft project, but knowing it wouldn’t take long, I slowed down each step, engaging in chit-chat as we enjoyed the time together. Once our cup was glued to our saucer, we waited for the glue to set and chatted about ideas for a poster he was working on for school and what else we could do over the next few weeks to make our garden look colourful and summery. I could tell he was enjoying our time together and I really was too. I know it’s an old cliché that kids grow up in the blink of an eye, but they really really do!
Once we were sure our cup and saucer were securely attached we tied on some colourful ribbon to the handle and filled the cup with bird seed. The saucer acts as a little landing base for the birds and it really looks very sweet hanging from the tree in our garden. Furthermore, it cost no more than the price of a bag of bird seed, and we can now spend time together watching from the patio doors as our feathered friends come to visit our garden and enjoy a snack.
As I tucked my youngest son into bed last night he whispered: ‘Thanks for being there for me when I cut my elbow and for making the bird feeder with me. It was fun.’
My heart melted as I leaned in for a snuggle. Seven, almost 8, is a hard age don’t you know?! Not quite fully independent but not a little boy anymore, and so life can be confusing at times. Having the opportunity to reassure, enjoy and be near my son for a little 1-to-1 time was really important to him and meant the world to me as he grows so quickly….and just look at our marvellous DIY Bird Feeder! The birds are in for a real treat!