Several years ago my husband and I moved to Dimondale, Michigan, in large part to be near family. Many of our grandchildren now live within one mile of our home, which is on the Grand River. We envisioned family outings for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, picnics, bonfires and maybe even some swimming, but there was one obstacle, a ten-foot drop from our yard down to the riverbank.
We commissioned our son-in-law, Christopher, to design an answer. He did. It would take 23 steps and ten yards of gravel. He built the forms but we needed some “boy-power.” We asked our older grandsons, ages, eight through twelve, to help transport the gravel down to the steps for Uncle Chris. We also asked them to invite their friends to help.
On the day of the project, ten boys showed up to work. Grandpa led them in a prayer for safety on the job; courtesy and kindness among the boys; teamwork; a good work attitude; and that the boys would have fun and the satisfaction that they had each done their best. Duties were assigned and the boys were encouraged to engage in positive speech while working. For two and a half hours they encouraged and helped each other. Grandpa and grandma doled out many compliments on their efforts.
When the job was complete, Grandpa paid our “men” five dollars each. The boys congratulated each other and exchanged high-fives. Mission accomplished. Grandpa finished the project with prayer, thanking the Lord for each of the boys, their talents; freedom from injury; the building of good relationships; a job well-done, and, of course, for the food because it was now time for a pizza party and root beer floats.
Now, everyone can get to the river safely and without difficulty. Those steps are a blessing for us! But they were also a blessing for the boys. I don’t mean the physical steps. The boys took character steps: hard work, cooperation, patience, faith…
I am a grandmother. I know character takes time to develop.
(And with a good project maybe even 23 steps in one day.)
Norma Wittgens is the grandmother of 21 and lives in Dimondale, Michigan.
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