Monday, July 11, 2011

Lessons We Learned From a Kayak

 Isaiah, aka The Boy, has been dreaming of owning a kayak for two years. He decided this spring that he would save the money that he earned from working at his grandparents farm to purchase a kayak. Two weeks ago, he and his kayak hit the water together for the first time. As I watched him paddle around the lake, I reflected on the lessons that, WE, had learned from the kayak.

Lesson 1: Saving money.
Isaiah, like many, has a hard time saving money. Ten dollars in his pocket doesn't last long. Every time he wants to spend his money on a cheap toy, I give the same lecture. "Wouldn't you want to save your money for something really cool? Don't you think one million Legos is enough, do you really need more??", etc. until I'd throw my hands in the air, dropped the nagging and say with disgust, "Fine, it's your money." (I know, not a great parenting moment.) When Isaiah decided to start saving for his kayak he realized that if he had the money it would be spent. He found a safe hiding place for the money at grandpa and grandma's farm. Still accessible but not easily accessible and he remained diligent in not taking from his kayak savings box.

Lesson 2: Don't get paid for a job that hasn't been completed.
The Boy and I had been reading Bob Schultz's book, Created for Work . The book has short chapters, each followed by discussion questions, covering work ethics, honoring God with our work, and important principles of being a man of God. One of the chapters we read instructed the reader to avoid paying or being paid before a job is completed. Being paid prior to a job done turns motivation, the need to make money, into a good intention that can slip onto the back burner. Isaiah and I had a great discussion on this chapter.

This was read just days before my dad asked if he could purchase the kayak (the kayak was on sale and my dad didn't want Isaiah to miss out on the sale price) and Isaiah could pay him back. Isaiah was often counting his money and calculating how much he had to work in order to obtain his reward. If the reward was given before earned, I knew that his focus would be on a new prize. The kayak would lose its value in Isaiah's eyes and the loan wouldn't be paid in a timely fashion. Armed with this knowledge and the wise advice from Created for Work, my dad and I decided that he would purchase the kayak but Isaiah would not be able to have it until he had earned it.

Lesson 3: Responsibility.
After watching my husband move the kayak from the van to the water, I knew that Isaiah needed to learn this responsibility. The kayak is heavy, however if Isaiah wants to kayak, he needs to figure out how to maneuver the kayak from the car to the dock and into the water. His rig, his ride, his responsibility. After discussing the responsibility that comes with owning his own watercraft, Isaiah was determined to prove that he was in fact responsible and would not accept any help that was offered. Which brings us to the next lesson.

Lesson 4: Mama, let The Boy figure it out!
When I see my son struggle I have a tendency to jump in and help. This is such a disservice to him. The third time out in the kayak (day after the responsibility lesson), Isaiah decided to paddle out a bit to do some fishing. Me, the worried mama, sat at the end of the dock, keeping The Boy in sight at all times. I bit my tongue to keep from offering advice when I saw him struggle at balancing the paddle while casting his line. A few minutes later the paddle fell into the water. Isaiah, holding on to his fishing pole in one hand reached the other hand to grab his paddle.....and the kayak tipped, dumping Isaiah into the lake. I started to yell out advice but realized that not only did my advice add to his frustration but that I needed to let him figure this out. I waited. Only when I saw that he was becoming very frustrated did I yell out, "Do you want advice?" to which he responds, "No, Mom, I know what I need to do!". I waited. But I couldn't stay silent. Instead of shouting out instructions, I threw out an occasional, "You're doing great!", "Way to go!" or "You can do it!". Being careful to spread them out so that he didn't become annoyed with me.

I loved watching Isaiah glide around the lake. I love that he is learning to be responsible, setting goals and making his dreams happen! A very proud moment for this mama as watch the transformation of my boy into a man. I am so blessed to be learning alongside my not so "little" man.


  1. This is a very good way to learn lessons. Keep up the good work 'mom'.