Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

August 12, 2010

Vises, Compromises, and Being the Grown-Up

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 3:28 am
Tags: , , ,

 I have clear memories of a grey hunk of metal attached to my Dad’s workbench in the garage. Dad could unplug all the power tools to keep us safe, but he warned us to stay away from this menacing tool that, if its jaws were screwed together, could crush our fingers. This hefty tool came to mind this week. A vise uses a mechanical screw to move one jaw towards or away from another jaw, allowing materials to be held or clamped. I never realized that only one jaw of the vise moves, the other remains fixed. The mechanical screw allows the movable part to approach, with precision, the opposing side of the vise, and if desired, to remain locked in that position. How often as parents or educators, do we find ourselves facing an immovable child? The one who won’t do their homework, who screams that you are the worst parent or teacher ever, who despite requests to socialize sits reading, alone. And how often have we said “Why won’t he/she …….”? We can so easily get stuck in these situations, wishing for the child to move, when what is really necessary is for us to be the grown-up. There are wonderful moments of movement and growth, where children surprise us and take steps towards us or the goals we think are important. Most times, however, our children need us to be “the grown up”, capable even in the most trying of situations, to move and compromise. The vise demonstrates the power that is possible even with movement from only one side. In recent talks with my Dad, he’s reminded me at least twice, that a vice has ridged edges inside the jaws that can damage. He explains that they make special covers or inserts for vises to protect against such damage. Being the grown-up requires movement and compromise, but it also takes restraint and care. At some point in his workbench down-sizing, Dad offered me the grey hunk of metal remembered from my childhood. While it sat unused on the workbench in my garage, its message has served me well. Having witnessed first hand the grace of a 6 foot, strong capable woodworker, who knew how to approach his tools, his children and his students with practiced gentleness, blending just the right amount of movement, compromise, power, and protection, left a strong and welcome imprint on me.


1 Comment »

  1. So gratifying to learn that the “pinch” of a garage vise can bring memories of the firm but gentle grasp of a parent’s hold. We hope that, through the years, with the maturing of parent and child, the “grip” firms and eases, relative to needs. Imagine, a tool with “flexibility”, as it serves its purpose!! Regards, E and S

    Comment by E and S Milch — August 13, 2010 @ 10:54 pm |Reply

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