They spend their days planning and building traps, forts and snares. They have made their own hatchets out of wood, twine and rocks. They ask our dear librarians for books on things like Native weaponry and woodworking.
I was asked last year by Nicolas, who at the time was five years old, if he was old enough to have his own swiss army knife yet. You may ask why a five year old would know about pocket knives and I would tell you that it is because they have already been given three or four of them by their grandfathers for "when they get older". This you see, is like showing candy to a toddler and then quickly snatching it away for a later date. It just doesn't go over so well.
Other interests include locating birds of prey, map making complete with symbols, chasing turkeys down our street, perfecting animal calls, whittling sticks (with adult supervision of course) and climbing trees to dangerous heights (thus the ever-growing amount of white hair that has recently starting growing).
Sometimes I wonder where this all came from. I am a firm believer in gender differences and my children alone have confirmed my beliefs- same home, same parents, same books, same educational experiences, no cable TV- different interests entirely. But I still question sometimes whether these interests, no passions, have been learned from their environment or if they are coming from somewhere deeper and stronger that I have no understanding of.
And then something happened the other day that solidified one of the theories that I have been holding to for years now.
My Dad, their Grampie, came to visit on Monday afternoon. We were visiting out front and before we knew it, Nicolas was up in the tree, taking his place among the branches. Before I knew it, Grampie was right up there with him.
Yes, my Dad hoisted himself up in the tree and took his place with his grandson high about our heads.
It was a moment I will always remember. And I just had to capture it.
All of the small connections that I have been making in my head over the years started weaving themselves together into one large and sensible idea. Genes. There must be a genetic component to all of this sticks and stones buisness. And from what I can tell, a lot of it has come directly from my Dad.
So the next time my child brings in a handful of- what he is calling deer dropplings- and accidentally drops them in the living room, I will have my Dad to thank. The next time I find one of them hammering nails in our front yard tree in an attempt to tap the tree for sap, I will remember my father.
Special thanks also go out to...
My husband- for passing down his dare-devil bike riding skills and love of After all when you start rididng motorcycles at age 4, this tends to happen.
My brother- hunter, archer and woodsmen extraordinaire, who just returned home from his first bear hunt with, ahem, the desired end result.
My husband's father, their Pepere- whose love of motorcycles has yet to fade and whose desire for adventure continues to this day. Who has owned a boat, numerous motorcylces and nearly purchased an ultra-light just a few years back (thank goodness).
And to my grandfather, my Papa- a life-long pilot and scubadiver, whose adventures took him to Burma and India during war-time and whose portrait with a Bengal tiger we have framed in the boys room.