There is something intrinsically fatherly, for me, about splitting wood. I’m talking about grabbing an ax, a sledge hammer, a steel wedge and whacking away at a cut section of log! (Can you feel the testosterone?). I learned to split wood from my dad when I was about 12 years old. It was a matter of necessity. We had a fireplace and if it was to be enjoyed by the whole family, the wood had to come from somewhere. It was fun for me to go into a clump of trees with him and cut down a couple of trees, then ride home with my dad and at the end of the summer, split the wood. I don’t think dad meant it as any great learning or bonding experience, but I got a lot more than just neat sections of logs for my reward. Splitting wood is very fatherly to me because of those times when my dad and I shared a common goal.
There are several dynamics that come in to play here. Splitting wood gave my dad and I the chance to connect on different levels. Beside achieving a common goal, we talked about school, his job, my girlfriends, his childhood (He had to get up every morning, as a boy, and stoke the fire up in the stove plus fetch more wood)…life in general! I also learned some basic things like safety with the tools or the quickest route to the hospital (I actually caught the ax in the head once! MY FAULT!). I look back on those times with my dad and wonder if he had the same feelings about our experiences, or was he just doing a job that needed to be done? Well, now that my own son is almost 12 (he’s named after my dad) and we both enjoy splitting wood together…I think I have my answer. I get a great deal of pleasure watching and helping my son split wood for our fireplace. We talk and I teach him the things my father taught me about the wood, my childhood, his grandpa….LIFE! If you have the opportunity, I urge you to try this simple thing with your son. The rewards you get will be much bigger than a pile of nicely split and stacked wood.
Image By: Peter Huys, stock.xchng
Mike Austin is the host of THE FATHER LIFE podcast and the father of six children, four of which were adopted from Poland. Mike & his wife Lisa are also the owners of a radio production company creating custom radio jingles and commercials for advertisers. If you would like to contact Mike about the “Radio Dad” daily feature or radio commercials / jingles, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.