Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to play with my Dad’s tools – or lawnmower.
I loved watching my Dad try to fix things around the house and was always there to hand him a hammer, wrench, roll of duct tape or cold beer as he worked on the sprinkler system, garage door, toilet… I was there to run his errands, fetch new tools, watch him work and sweat and swear and eventually ask me for the cordless phone so he could call a real repair man.
My Dad was not great at fixing things. He preferred to fix people – something he was really good at!
My limited exposure to do-it-yourself projects growing up did not lend me much of an inclination towards fixing things around the house as a young adult. A bookcase I bought from Ikea once drove me to tears, but now it stands tall. Albeit with flimsy, backwards shelves – it stands! A testament to my ability to put something together all by myself! Just took me blood, sweat and tears…..But the bookcase isn’t my only accomplishment.
When I was 13, I took a VCR apart and put it back together after my baby brother shoved a peanut butter and banana sandwich in it. I had it working perfectly before Dad got home from work.
One time, I even changed my own oil, but I swore off ever doing that again when I spent the next few months scared that I hadn’t screwed the cap back on tight enough. The peace of mind is worth the $31.99 at Jiffy Lube.
Today, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity with a few of the people that work in my office. It was a first for me.
Holy messed-up manicure, Batman!
It’s been a really long time since I’ve done any real kind of manual labor (unless you count taking my garbage can down to the curb every week…) Carrying heavy slabs of wood, climbing up scaffolding, hitting things with a “staple hammer” – it’s freaking tough! But the thing that really killed me, was trying to keep my knees from shaking when I was standing on the scaffolding or leaning out a window.
I’m not afraid of heights. But, I’m not necessarily good with being up high and not having all of my limbs securely wrapped around something. I could hang from scaffolding all day, koala-style, but that wouldn’t have done much in the effort to secure the Tyvex paper stuff to the side of the houses, now would it?
All the guys seemed so at ease, natural. Their knees were not shaking.
The second time we took down the scaffolding and re-built it, I looked at one of the guys and said, “You had an erector set as a kid, didn’t you?”
He laughed and said, “Kinex.”
That’s when I realized that my Barbie dream house came pre-assembled. Almost all of my toys did, except my Lego’s (obviously). I was way behind the eight-ball on this one!
I certainly have some catching up to do….but how does one learn these things? I signed up to help Habitat on my free Saturdays. I figure I’ll learn how to do this stuff or die trying….or meet just someone who will be my own Mr. Fix-up until death do we part.
If I ever end up leasing my uterus out for 9 months and providing a baby with a one-way trip through the birth canal, I fully intend on buying her a play tool set (a pink one). And I’ll periodically take all of her stuff apart to make her put it back together again. She’ll thank me in the long run.