Raising DIY People
You know what’s the best thing about doing it uneven? You can’t make a mistake.” —Stella, 10
That’s what Stella told me yesterday when she decided to cut her own hair. She figured she would give herself an uneven style because that would be interesting and different and very Stella-ish.
Most kids have cut their hair at some point. Most of them get over it by age four. So of course, I was a bit hesitant to let her take scissors to her gorgeous curls. But I got out of the way and gave her the green light. As she started chopping, I could see the unevenness taking shape.
Or rather, not taking shape.
But I smiled and watched. I smiled because I realize with pride that we’re raising DIY people. DIY people don’t believe things are best left to specialists. DIY people are not afraid to make mistakes. DIY people expect mistakes and keep going.
DIY people embrace the unevenness.
I think part of the problem with consumerism is that we believe we have to pay specialists to do what people a hundred years ago just did for themselves. They built their own homes. They cut their own hair. They planted their own gardens. For godsakes, they cleaned their own houses.
Before we took this giant leap of faith into homesteading, we did what most upper middle class suburban families do. We worked our butts off and didn’t think twice about paying specialists a lot of money to do things like clean our house and tend our garden and cut our hair. It freed us up, we thought, to do things we wanted to do. In reality, it just made us more beholden to working our butts off more to pay for those things.
No wonder we live in a country with enormous debt, populated by citizens in enormous consumer and mortgage debt. We think we have to pay people to do what we don’t want to or don’t believe we can do ourselves.
I want to raise people who are willing to do it unevenly. To believe mistakes aren’t mistakes, but a necessary and inevitable part of the process. To DIY.
And sometimes that means letting go of my own reservations of what people will think. Sometimes that means letting my kids try what I think will be a total disaster.
As Stella finished her haircut, she put on some of my lipstick for fun and sat there for a long time smiling at herself in the mirror.
Now, YOU might think her “asymmetrical” cut looks pretty ridiculous. She wouldn’t care. Know what she said? She said, “I think I look like a Greek goddess. Hera, maybe. Don’t you think?”
Yes, Stella, I do think.