Sailing Kid-Made Ships

Posted by jdg | 10:32 AM

When I first saw this pinterest thing my first thought was What kind of idiot forms a social media site based entirely on violating others' copyrights? My second thought was I hope this goes away soon, just like twitter. I guess twitter never actually went away, but by ignoring it completely I can at least pretend that it did. Is twitter still out there? Didn't people realize their lives were not improved by knowing what big Hollywood celebrities like Charles Barkley and Regis Philbin have to say about the most mundane topics? Sure I can put my fingers in my ears and say Lalalalala every time I hear anything about twitter, but I can't avoid how much mom anxiety there is out there about pinterest. Ladies, chill: it's all bullshit. Every time I see some food or craft porn on pinterest I'm like, Bullshit, bullshit, oh, that's totally bullshit. Curate these nuts, motherf&%^ers. 

Then I realized some of the stuff I do/make was causing people anxiety, like seeing me make some ridiculous bullshit was making them feel bad because they aren't able to make ridiculous bullshit of their own and that just makes me not want to share any bullshit that I make, because seriously folks: I am not in this to be creating anxiety, or to get anxious about whether I am creating anxiety. Making stuff is supposed to be fun, not just about getting the most repins. Most of the time, the stuff you make isn't perfect. Actually, it never is, although it can look deceptively so from the right distance with the right instagram filter. If you want perfect, bring your idea to an industrial designer in China and have a factory full of formerly-starving peasants churn out a million plastic copies of it. Like a freaking iPad. Everyone thinks the design on that Apple crap is so freaking amazing but I look at it and say it's too perfect. The whole purpose of that design is to look at it and not have a clue how it was made. You can't even break into it to mess around and try to make it better. It's just a different kind of ugliness, without any of the beautiful imperfections of the human hand.

One of the things I love about making stuff with kids is how crappy it usually looks but how much they don't care. They're proud of stuff they make, and they should be. THEY ARE LEARNING. And when they show us how proud they are of some beautiful, hideous thing they've created, they're teaching us something too: don't stop learning how to do things because you can't do them perfectly. 

This summer my kids wanted to make boats that they could sail themselves. Last summer we ventured into toyboatmaking and it was fun but I had too much labor invested in it so this year I told the kids You have complete creative control. My only rules that I had to do the powersawing and hot-gluing, but I would only do it at their direction. They started with cardboard box boats held together by scotch tape and lofty ideas. The paint job was extremely important.

That stupid, perfect iPad box looks so much better sailing the puddle sea, wouldn't you agree?

Though the boats floated, they eventually got pretty soggy so the kids decided to work with sturdier materials: wood and foam. I had them draw out blueprints for their ships on giant paper and then they instructed me how to cut the wood and then they put it all together with duct tape and a staple gun. Behold, the kid-made pirate ship:

They glued pieces of scrap foam around the bottom, hoping it would aid in flotation and prevent water from seeping in. Then, we got out the paints:

We were headed north in a few days for a vacation and the kids insisted on bringing the ships they made with us, and every time we found a calm body of water along the way the ships came out and were tested.

In their grandparents' garden pond one ship capsized, so grandpa helped add some more foam to the bottom, and they floated beautifully. The napkin sails really worked!

We took a rowboat out in a  differentpond and the ships made another voyage.

I'm the first to admit that I try to make beautiful things. But I also feel it's extremely important to show the kids that it's not just the end result, but the pride that comes with learning to make something that keeps us making.

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