Not-so handy

Ladies, gentlemen, whatever, there’s a reason I majored in English and don’t work with my hands. I don’t mind getting down and dirty in the garage, or cleaning out the attic, or even scooping up whatever bodily spewing is left on the floor by the kids or pets. I’m not above any of that. We have soap, water and bleach.

But y’all, I just plain suck at handy type work. I didn’t inherit Grandpa Sid’s carpentry skills.

You need me to demolish a fence? I’m all over that sumbitch. How about hauling bricks in my truck to the dump? Sign me up.

Forget about asking me to build you a simple birdhouse or picnic table. Not only will I “make” the shittiest, most dangerous and jerry-rigged piece of crap you’ll ever see, I’ll manage to injure some part of my body in the process.

It’s not a true project until I’ve managed to mangle myself in some way or another.

Ask my brother how many times he stopped me from inflicting major bodily harm on myself while using my mitre saw. Not-so pro tip, kids: Don’t attempt to pull the mitre saw arm down on a piece of wood if you’re holding your arm across your body. You’re gonna have a bad time.

The big day

We’re closing on the new house (and the old house) in less than a month. The inspector of the old house said some peeling paint needed to be addressed on the door in the garage. The door that’s currently blocked by our standup freezer. The door I’ve opened once, maybe twice in the eight years we have lived here.

The damn thing has been sawed in half. Like one of those doors you’d see at a day care when you’re dropping your kids off. So I decide to get a 1×4 to make it into a whole door again.

Several hours, screws, nails, dead drill batteries and a smattering of curse words later, it’s done. More or less. Onward to the paint job.

Me and Luke do a project

My youngest son, Luke, is a typical five-year-old boy. Rough and tumble. Loud. Gassy. Doesn’t listen for shit. Some people say he’s just like me. Maybe they’re right.

Well he loves to paint. Loves it. So after I get the door looking somewhat like a door, we get it prepped. It felt good having him calmly listening to me as I showed him how to scrape off the old paint. He did a good job on that. I sent him inside to change into some old clothes while I got the paint stirred up and grabbed some brushes. I cursed myself for packing the rollers. Damn me, being all proactive in spite of myself.

I showed him how to load up a paint brush without spilling too much on the ground (or himself). He was eager to get started. 

I’m feeling emotional as I recall how well everything went. It’s a mix of pride, accomplishment and a bit of sorrow.

You see, both times Lacey and I found out we were having boys, I dreamed of days like the one I had today. Where me and my son weren’t necessarily father and son. Just two dudes, shooting the breeze as we worked. I hardly had to correct him or get angry at him for not listening. It was as perfect as it could be.

I’m proud of him for doing so well. I feel accomplished that we got something done together. And I’m a bit sorrowful at how quickly he’s growing up.

Holding on while letting go

Lacey and I both lament and marvel at how quickly our boys seem to be growing. Are they really 9 and 5 (almost 6)? I vividly recall them being born. Changing diapers. Getting up with them when they were hungry, or just cranky, in the middle of the night. And now they’re becoming young men.

Luke took a huge step toward that today. I find myself treating him like he’s not ready for things because he’s young and doesn’t always listen. I sometimes use that as an excuse to just do a project by myself. I want to get it done and I don’t want to have to stop every five seconds to make sure he’s keeping up. But today showed that he’s moving in the right direction.

One day I’ll be gone. And these boys are my legacy. I want them to be better men than me.

As I think on how they’re both growing into smart, strong and caring young men, I feel a little less worried about the future.

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