I Have to Sit On My Hands

I’m one of those parents.

The parent who has a heck of a time not interfering or involving myself when my children are participating in any type of artful creating or crafting with glue, scissors, paint, glitter….it doesn’t matter the medium, I feel the need to be a part of it. 

I want to become their third hand, finishing every painted brush stroke, cleaning up every edge of paper they have cut out with scissors.

It is so hard for me not to deeply involve myself in their projects.  I want to help.  I want them to be perfect.  I want them to succeed.  I want it to look pretty.

I also like to offer my two cents when it comes to their writing; punctuation, verb introduction and filling them with story ideas when they are constructing written sentences and paragraphs.  I want them to see the excitement their writing can take on if they interject the correct pause or properly use alliterative verse or figurative language to express their ideas. 

Their response….”Mooooooommmm, just let me do it!” 

I can take a hint.

So yesterday, I sat on my hands while they painted their Pinewood Derby cars.  It took everything in me not to touch up the missing spots or better yet, sand down the car before the painting even began.

But these were THEIR creations and interpretations of the hottest hot rods out there.

And they were so happy.

What I Was Blogging About One Year Ago Today:  My Atlantis

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  1. deeba 1

    Ypu are just like me, But I have learnt to disappear, put the music up & STAY AWAY when they are at crafty stuff. I LOVE art & craft & am sometimes compelled to give my 2 penny bit…but now zip up! Then I appear when it’s time to clear like the big bad witch & start nudging them to clean up!!

  2. Ohhh!Your Hooligans did a great job of their pinewood derby cars! Will you post pictures of the derby itself? Don’t throw away those bright cars either….I love seeing the creativity of kids. Those cars could be mounted in any modern art museum, and would hold their own in quality…maybe even surpass some of what else would be exhibited!

  3. Oh, how I hear you. It’s so very hard!!!

  4. Ha.. I was like that too, now, I am grateful for the 10 minutes or so when they are so occupied they dont need my help. Especially on the weekends I have 8 under 12 here. I normally have my own 4 under 11. So as much as I ove my kids and stepkids, I love my minutes of solitude also. You sound like an awesome MOM!

  5. Your children’s cars are precious. Looks like they inherited your talent. You are a good Mom and they are very lucky.

  6. Barbie with a T 7

    YEA MOM! You did them a favor by sitting on your hands. Just have patience and they will become just as creative as their mother one day. What you did is exactly what they need to develop their own talents and skills.

    BTW, I made the asparagus popover (fritatta) last evening and it turned out splendid and delicious. I paired it with grilled salmon, and it made a really great Lenten dinner. Thanks again for these great recipes.

  7. Those cars are precious – and 30 years from now when they get them out to show their sons how they painted their pinewood derby cars – Their sons will love them too! Good job mom – even though it is so hard to let them go it alone!

  8. HoneyB 9

    How sweet – and its nice you “sat on your hands”. I know how hard that is to do! lol.

  9. Oh yes… I know that feeling! Your kids are right, you know…

    We are right behind you in our household! Just got our derby cars Thurs. night at our Blue & Gold banquet… I have to show you our cake… it’s hilarious!

  10. Flea 11

    They’re adorable! Good for you, sitting on your hands! My Hunny got involved with the Pinewood building last year and Little Guy’s car was very professional looking. But it was the Hunny’s car. *sigh* You did good, mom. :)

  11. Katrina 12

    Good for you! Hard for me, too! Our pinewood derby was last Sat. Last year my son’s car took first place, the year before that, let’s just not talk about it, this year, he’ took 4th. I don’t think it even matters how their car looks.
    This is a tough area for me, too. You should see me when they’re helping in the kitchen! 😉
    The cars are theirs and look great!

  12. Wow, your kids did a great job! Very cute! I feel exactly like you do and it’s hard to just stay back. My daughter is too strong willed to let me do anything to help, pretty much from the time she was 3 and a half, and I am also not allowed anywhere near her when she is doing her projects. I just get to look at the final result :)

  13. Daziano 14

    Well done! My father was like you with me (in a paternal way)… so I never learned how to fix things in the house 😀

  14. Marlene 15

    I too, am a momma who likes to interject and have had to learn the difference between leading and taking over…it was such a hard stuggle, but I weighted those hands down and tied them up, put tape over my mouth, and only spoke when questions were asked…
    I am still working on it.

    What a great job they did!!! What wonderful memories they are making.

  15. I think most moms struggle with this. Even as a teacher I struggled with wanting to “help” too much. Yes, occupying yourself while they are creating and only offering up suggestions when they ask for help is the best approach. Their creations are terrific!


  16. Erin 17

    Me too! For Christmas my kids made gifts for their cousins and it was all I could do to not “fix” them.

    Your kids’ cars look awesome. :)

  17. Melynda 18

    Great job mom! As the hooligans work hard learning to grown up, moms struggle to let them (without injury), it is a hard job for both. My own hooligan had a pine wood derby just like those, he was proud of his too.

  18. This is hard for me as well. However, the Little Imp has made it perfectly loud and clear to me, “I can do it MYSELF, mommy!!!!” time and time again. The urge is still there, but I sit back and enjoy what she creates and often times, play with the scissors and play doh, or crayons myself.

  19. Suzette 20

    Love the cars! But, I know what you mean. My “baby” is 26. She’s living with me now while she finishes her degree. It’s soooooo hard not to edit when she asks me to check her punctuation. It’s sooooo hard to just zip it up when her thesis statement isn’t “just so.” Sooooo hard when her speech has awkward moments. But, I do try to be a Good Mommy and just let her live or die with her own creations. Once a mommy, always a mommy. It never ends. :)

  20. I feel the same way. Try to help them be the best they can be. It’s a mommy thing.
    I like their interpretations. It’s a release of their inner creativity.

  21. I’m pretty much the same way–it’s hard to control! I think my husband has done 90% of the work on their Pinewood Derby cars!

    Thewir cars look great!

  22. kiki 23

    As someone who teaches an occasional art class, I have to say that there is a fine line between helping and interfering. The worst is the parents who think they know what they are doing so they don’t listen to the teacher and end up ruining their projects. (I know you wouldn’t do that though. :) It is good for kids to learn that sometimes mom is right & if they take the time to prepare their surface (by sanding) they will have a nicer project. So hopefully the next project will look a little nicer and then the one after will look even better. I love to see the improvement over an 8 week period of how kids learn what works & what doesn’t. For home projects, coaching is good or the old, “I wonder what it would like like if you sanded it first” or “hey buddy, maybe if you put a second coat on it the color would be stronger”
    Meanwhile, I love the boys projects. It is great that they do these and get involved so young!

  23. That was me too! It took a long time to be “graceful” about it. I’m better now!

  24. Bev 25

    Good for you!!! The one thing I hated most of all in our Scouting days was when kids came with projects they couldn’t possibly have done themselves. Parents took all the fun out of it for them, and for the kids who HAD done the work themselves, but couldn’t possibly compete with little Johnny’s perfect project.

  25. You’ve got a couple of little artists there. And they did it all on their own. Hurrah for all of you!

  26. Trisha 27

    Congrats on letting them do it themselves. I think they did a wonderful job on their hot rods!

  27. dawn 28

    I know exactly what you mean…I want to become their third and FOURTH appendages. It’s just so hard.

    Their cars are wonderful creations of their own abilities.

  28. Kristy 29

    Good for you Mom! They are beautiful and I can’t wait to see them race next week. Your little Hooligan will be a kick to watch!

  29. JPirate 30

    Good for you! Their cars are great! This is one of my pet peeves actually. I hate going to pinewood derbies with my brothers because you can totally tell that 90% of the cars were not done by the kids. Letting them make with own will surely make them feel more accomplished. :)

  30. Tracy 31

    That is too bad. (Dads can be just as interferring as Moms). It does the children a real disservice when either parent does the ‘work’ for them. They don’t build their own skills and eventually won’t even try.

    Also, the other children and parents know when the project was done by a parent.

  31. Tracy 32

    You did your children a huge favor by letting them do their cars themselves. Please keep letting them do their own work, whether it is arts and crafts, school work, or any other kind of project. They can only build their skills if they get the chance to practice them.

    I know parents think they are raising little boys and little girls, but if you try to remember they are going to be the future men and women maybe it will be easier not to do things for them. We already have enough ‘slackers’ in this country (because too much was done for them and they lost their desire to do much of anything).

    P.S. I am a parent and a teacher.

  32. elra 33

    I was the same, in fact I still do that sometimes.

    Well done boys, you guys are so talented. Love the vibrant color too.
    Have a wonderful week end!

  33. I have the same problem. The thing is, sometimes I think maybe I help less than I should because I know I have to just completely walk away in order to keep from taking over and doing it for them. I have control issues and I have trouble working on projects as a team. I am much better at just doing things myself or having clear divisions of responsibility on larger projects. (You make and send the invitations, he does the set up, she does the decorations, I do the food. If you do not interfere with my portion of the job, I will do my best to keep my thoughts about your portion to myself.) This is very hard when my kids are being lazy and pretty much wanting me to do things for them but under the guise of just wanting help because they don’t understand how to do something. I get very frustrated and usually wind up saying, “Look, it’s not *my* project!” Then I have to leave the room to avoid it becoming my project.

    When my kids were in Scouts, we often had problems with dads who wanted to take over and make their 7yo’s cars perfect. Those kids never got to work on their own cars and were learning some very poor lessons. In order to avoid this, we had two outlaw races, one for parents and one for siblings. Family members were encouraged to make their own cars and only give verbal advice to their sons about how to achieve the look their sons wanted. Some of the dads got very elaborate. There were still a few boys’ cars that we suspected dads had helped a little too much with, but I think it did help a lot.

    Your boys’ cars are fantastic. It’s obvious that they did them, and their skills will improve with time. Someday those cars may be lost, but they will always have the memory that you let them do the project rather than taking over. Can you imagine how that must feel for the kids whose parents push them aside and insist on completing the cars themselves? That has to just suck all the fun out of it and probably leaves them with some very bitter memories. I don’t want my kids to remember me that way, so I try to keep my control freak nature in check.

  34. Egghead 35

    I know what you mean and for years stifled that urge with my own kids. But as I have come to see with my grandchildren they really are so happy with what they create and as they grow they get better and better. My refrigerator always has grandchildren art on it….I just rotate it out depending on the season and what we are doing. And you better believe they know when I have removed anything…usually this is a sign that some new holiday is coming up. Fun times and great memories for them.

  35. Bob 36

    Heh, I remember doing the pinewood derby. Mine was terrible, I came in last place. Ah well. :)

  36. Alisa 37

    Too cool. I am also one of those moms. Although, I’ve found that now that they’re getting older, I just don’t have as much time to be anal, er care.

  37. kayola 38

    That is so hard to do…our sons didn’t like me helping with their cars either…but the one year Zachary let me help…he WON MOST CREATIVE…but that embarressed him…you are a great mom!

  38. Cheryl 39

    Exactly my challenge — the “let them do it.” Just had Darren (7) take a gander at their handiwork. “They’re cool —colorful.” :)

    There you go! :)

  39. Laurie 40

    I’m guilty of this too! Maybe it’s a common mom thing. But your guys did great all on their own. Their cars rock!

  40. Liz C. 41

    The derby cars look just as they should! I always had to hold myself back too. I always wanted to perfect everything, but hubby would shoo me away. Of course, we never won because the (parents) kids that did *take over* always won. Great lesson learned there, huh?

    I even knew parents that would do homework for their kids. WTH? I always assumed the teachers would be able to spot that, but apparently not.

    Sit on those hands girl! The hooligans did a fabulous job!

  41. Marni 42

    I’m so glad I’m not the only hand sitter! Not only do I have to do it with my own kids, but also with the cub scout den and girl scout pack. Pure torture:) Today is our pack’s Blue and Gold, along with the Father-Son bake off. I usually have to leave the house just to keep my nose out of their way. I love your boys cars, hope they have fun at the derby!

  42. imom 43

    Those pinewood derby cars are perfect! When I did day care I would make all kinds of “art” available for the kids and let them go at it. There was always a delicate balance between letting the kids do whatever they wanted with the material and trying to explain to the parents that yes, that was their project today. There were many puzzled looks on parents faces as their child would say, “look what I made today!” I was constantly telling parents, “It’s the process, not the product.”

    I miss the joy of the kids creating and the puzzled look on their parents faces!

  43. I’m one of “those” parents too, Cathy. It is soooo hard not to butt in and “help”!

    Looks like your guys did a great job all on their own, though. And, I’m sure their feelings of accomplishment are priceless!

  44. Dee 46

    My girlfriend kids expect her to finish off their homework. Aren’t you glad yours ask you to leave off?

  45. Julie 47

    Those are super cute…they did a great job. I tend to want to be a buttinski too. It’s hard to watch them struggle when I could just DO it.

  46. At the end of the day, if they’re ahppy that’s what counts! But I totally understand you, I guess whrn I have kids I’ll do the same…

  47. I can so, so relate! My kids pinewood derby cars didn’t come out anything like I would have ‘helped’ them come out. They loved them though.

    If it’s not too late, make sure you get some liquid graphite and put it on the wheels. It’s legal and it helps them go much faster. My daughter’s wouldn’t even cross the finish line until we did that. (Siblings can enter their Pinewood Derby)

  48. I’m that way when I see kids doing craft, and will often sit down and make my own, in order to avoid “helping” them on theirs. Hee

  49. Kate 51

    I love this post. I don’t come here just for the recipes or for your wine reviews. I come here because I like you and I adore how much you love your family.
    This post brought back so many good memories of my own boys’ pinewood derby cars. They were similar to this. Not perfect, but really cool. In their mind, anyway. It’s difficult to sit on your hands while they toil. But it’s a parent’s job. And you’re doing it with aplomb.

  50. In order for a child to have confidence in their own skills, they need to do it themselves. With praise, their confidence groes, and over time, their abilities. Glad you didn’t step in.

  51. You and me both. But I’m always so happy and proud to see what they have created on their own!

  52. You’re not alone, I do the same exact same thing. I literally have to leave the room and not watch my daughter do anything because it’s more than I can take. Seriously.

  53. Marjie 55

    I remember Pinewood Derby days, and loved them. Make sure you sand the nails that hold the wheels in place, because they have itty bitty tiny nubs near the head which make the wheels not run true. Then put the nails and wheels in ziploc baggies with graphite powder, and have the boys shake them, and carry them around in their pockets for a day or 2. That is the most important thing to making the cars very fast, and that will make the boys feel wonderful!

    And there was one father who owned a body shop, and his kid’s (OR HIS) car had a pro paint job every year. It also never won anything. Looks don’t count, if they make the boy happy. Wheels do.

  54. You are far from the only one who does that! I am guilty on many occassions and it is hard not to interject! Their cars are perfect as long as they think they are!

  55. Sara 57

    I think they did a great job!

  56. Rebel 58

    I always had that problem too. I guess it’s the ‘wantin’ to do for them syndrome.’

  57. Leslie 59

    LOL LOL LOL…I am the exact same way!!!
    I just try to walk away and do the laundry!

  58. Biz 60

    Love those cars! My Dad was a professional artist, and felt the need to “help” my brother with his pinewood derby car. When he got done with it, you could obviously tell my brother never could have painted the detailed lettering on the car – my Dad said “no one will ever know!”

    Once my brother put his car on the track, he was immediately disqualified!

  59. Bev 61

    I linked to this entry: link to funnytheworld.com

  60. pam 63

    Imagine how hard it is for a teacher!

  61. Beth 64

    I have always said that if a cub scout pack wanted to have a great funraiser, they would sell dads a pinewood derby kit that they could race in their own race.
    Tooo often you can tell that the cars were done for the most part by mom or dad….it’s not fair and it really does nothing but frustrate the kids. I hated pinewood derby time and let dad do it…not worth the argument or frustration

  62. Linda 65

    My kids used to do the pinewood derby cars every year at Awanas. I too wanted to “help”, I’m like you … but I sat back and let them do their thing. It was always so obvious when parents did more than just help though.

  63. Leslie 66

    my dad, as a writer, did the same thing with everything i wrote as a kid! it drove my brothers and me crazy too. then he learned to just wait until we were done, and then proofread it for us and show us what the correct grammar was, and why, without changing our writing style. and, that actually helped me learn proper grammar more than school did! so, maybe change your tactics, because now i am really thankful that he did that.

  64. Paula 67

    I LOVE that you let them do it themselves. It really makes such a difference in the long run! Well, done mom. My son had such fun at the pinewood derby! There were dad’s that showed up with their “son’s” cars in cotton lined boxes and lacquered paint. Uh. So much for letting the kids experience the joy of doing it themselves! Way to go instilling “You Can Do It” attitude in your children!

  65. Cute mobiles!

    We’re kindreds in the perfectionist department. You did a good thingmby sitting on your hands so their little ones could craft such fine stuff . . . and gift you with such a BIG smile. Life surprises us with its beauty when we stop doing and just look. : D

  66. kayola 69

    Cathy…please if you get a minute check my blog…I gave you an award…seriously what more could you want???? I think you are awesome and you deserve it…

  67. I think they did a smashing job (get it…smashing…ya, i know) but I know exactly what you mean. “My daughter” just did a historical project on our 100 year old fair. I mean history! What, was the teacher baiting me, or what?

  68. OK I do the same thing! I just have to leave the room :)


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