Once we’d identified the values that we hope will define us as a family and crafted them into a statement, we still needed to make it into a physical thing to serve as a permanent reminder.
Step 1: Pick a size/shape for it. I used to dabble in woodworking and had some cool pieces of lumber that I’d bought 10 years ago, but I had never figured out what I wanted to do with them. We decided to use an enormous plank of mahogany. You may not have an enormous plank of mahogany. Don’t panic. There’s a good chance you can get one if you’re willing to find a lumber yard in your area (I just googled “lumber yard boston” to check and I found one in nearby Watertown, MA that sells a decent variety of nice wood). You could also go to a craft store and get prepared wood blanks with routed edges. These can be as big as a piece of framed art – they’re generally sold for woodburning (the art – not the heating source).
The mahogany plank I had was rough cut, so I used a hand sander to smooth it down. The kids got to help a bit with that (until it got boring).
Once we knew what our general goals were with this project, we had to begin working towards them. But because we’d agreed that we wanted to create our statement ourselves, we had to decide how to go about doing that…
Step 1: Explain the idea to the kids. We began by telling the kids we were thinking about what it means to be a member of our family. I explained that, in our house, it means that we’re all related, of course, but that it also means that we share some similarities and that we use our differences to work together like a team. Then I let it simmer on low. Continue reading Family Identity – Finding the Words→
When we first decided to move to Boston we knew we were in for some big changes. We were signing up not just for a different home, but for a different kind of home. Our 4 bedroom house, with its dining room, living room, and 3 season porch would give way to a 2 bedroom apartment. We were cutting back to 1 car instead of 2. We were leaving behind friends and familiar places. Our kids were leaving a small Montessori school for the comparatively enormous public school system. Wendy was starting a new job and I was leaving the professional world to return to the role of homemaker.
Kids are kinda weird. They’re not born with a strong sense of self. In fact, developing that sense is actually a long process – humans tend to have a blurry boundary between self and the world around us until well into adolescence. As we age we get better and better at understanding where our environment ends and we begin, but it can be dodgy for anyone, regardless of age, during times of upheaval – especially young children, whose identities haven’t really solidified. Continue reading Family Identity – Part 1→