I have a book about raising boys. Several in fact. And a common theme is that boys need to be boys. They need to explore and take chances and seek danger. But, as a mother concerned about her son being injured, I struggle with letting go. But I try.
So, against all the alarms ringing in my head, I watch my dear son with his homemade forge trying to subdue a scrap piece of rebar into something other than a round bar.
He has placed bricks along the bottom of my small copper fire pit. Within that, he has started a charcoal fire. He is wearing my Ove-Gloves (to protect his hands from the heat and embers.) Our bench vice serves as his anvil and is balanced on two pieces of scrap lumber in an attempt to placate me. (I was sure he would crack the driveway if he hammered on the vice placed directly on the concrete.) He has a pair of fireplace tongs to retrieve the hot metal from the fire and a small sledge hammer to do his work. Blowing. Heating. Hammering. Blowing. Heating. Hammering. Repeat.
I want to cheer him on with these experiments and applaud his desire to try things out. At the same time, I think that surely he should know that some things just shouldn’t be tried at home.
Case in point… About a year ago, this same boy asked me for some cotton cloth scraps, cotton thread and lighter fluid. He then proceeded to make three small balls of the cloth and wound them up in the string, doused them in lighter fluid and set them on fire. Apparently, you were supposed to be able to hold them, juggle them even, without getting burned. At least, that is the way the YouTube video he watched countless times made it seem.
I remember seeing flaming balls fly out of my son’s hands and then my husband tried to catch them and he too dropped the hot burning balls. Imagine. Burning balls of cotton cloth are too hot to handle.
My cautionary tale for awhile after that was “Don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. Especially if it involves fire.” He didn’t appreciate my humor.
But, tonight I have talked him out of turning on the large floor fan to try and get the fire hotter on his forge. I explained that he would just be blowing hot charcoal right out of the fire pit and across the yard. And he listened to me.
I don’t know at what point he will recognize this as another YouTube flop, but until then, I think I’ll go sit outside with the garden hose at the ready.