January 19, 2014

Handy Men

I grew up with 'handy' men in my life.  My dad liked to tinker with cars and motorcycles and build stuff in his woodworking shop.  He had a darkroom where we developed film together.  He loved music and had all the latest equipment for the time, a labyrinth of wiring that makes the disaster behind my television look tame by comparison. 

My grandfather was a farmer, so he was capable of doing everything.  Really.  Carpentry, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, wood, metal...he grew up in a time that there wasn't anyone to call to come fix things, you had to figure out a way to do it yourself.  You may joke about holding something together with baling twine, but I've seen that magic work - duct tape and Super Glue weren't found on the farm 

My childhood friends were mostly boys, and we cobbled together tree houses, bike ramps, forts, and go-carts.  My high school boy friends were mostly car guys, and I spent many an hour handing them tools and reminding them that there were still parts on the ground that they were forgetting to put back in.

Perhaps all of those experiences were part of a divine plan to prepare me for the day that I would marry a guy that isn't handy.  He is really good at a bunch of stuff, but he doesn't fix things.  He isn't incapable, he just never learned to do it, and his youth conditioned him to call for someone qualified to the task. 

I am trying to instill in my kids the ability to measure a task and determine whether it is a DIY project, or requires a paid expert.  This week, when the boy's bathroom toilet needed new innards, I had Bang assist in the installation of the float and flapper.  As part of the exercise, we also compared my Home Depot receipt for the parts, compared to a receipt for the ONE time that a plumber did the same task for us.  Mr H said what he always says, "How do you know how to do so many things?" 

I guess the answer is that I watch, listen, learn, and am willing to read and follow directions.  And I am good at assessing my ability level relative to the task.  And, those are also the same qualities that cause me to have reservations when I delegate a task to a family member that I am not sure will be able to handle it.

This morning, my oldest child (my husband) and my youngest child are headed off to a Pinewood Derby Workshop to build Crash's car for this year's race.  I have helped my kids build 6 or 7 of these cars, once at the same workshop they are going to, but the rest on our own.  I know that the gentleman running the workshop won't let them cut off anything important, and I know that this may well be a lifelong memory for both of them - father and son, sawdust, paint fumes, testosterone central.  Still, the thought of my husband and baby around band saws, disk-belt sanders, and drill presses gives me pause.

I am going to keep a good thought, and double check our First Aid supplies.

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