Power Tools Are Real-Life Kryptonite
When I was 6 years old, my daddy built a log cabin playhouse for me.
It was magical. A window seat looked out at grape vines lining one side of my backyard. Beyond that ran a creek where I made mud pies I later cooked in my playhouse kitchen.
On the front porch, Daddy fashioned a seat for me from a piece of halved white pine. My favorite part of the house was the built-in writing desk. Even then I wrote regularly. I kept a journal, one of those lock-and-key types, where I wrote secrets only my dog Candy knew.
Having grown up with a charming playhouse, I naturally thought my daughter should have one, too. Since my daddy lovingly made mine with his own hands, I naturally thought my daughter’s daddy should do that, too. When Isabella neared her 6th birthday, I told Patrick as much.
Lest he decline to take on what I thought was a beyond-fabulous idea, I shared my thoughts with him in front of our daughter. Patrick would probably still be mad at me for shamelessly manipulating him if not for the look on Isabella’s face. Her eagerness melted his hesitations.
In a matter of days, the playhouse project commenced. The first step was to get a building permit from the village of Pinehurst. Patrick presented the house plans and returned home to tell me the playhouse had certain stipulations.
Now in my native county, where the right to own property comes hand-in-hand with the right to use said property as a personal salvage yard, this would be an outrage.
Indeed, my family was aghast that the village had a say in what went in our yard. They reacted with expressions of surprise: “Well, golly Pete!” and “Do what?” (My family would want you to know, by the way, that they do not have rusted-out cars propped on cinderblocks in their yards.)
To the village and its regulations, I say, rock on. If the village had not required that the playhouse match our house, it would have been painted in pink and purple zebra stripes. Bless my daughter’s heart.
With the plans approved, building started. From the beginning, it was a daddy-daughter project that bonded Patrick and Isabella. Nonetheless, it has had its share of bumps in the road, or rather, bumps in Patrick’s body.
While my husband is normally nimble and graceful, the presence of power tools and ladders changes him. If Patrick is my Superman, then building tools are his Kryptonite. That fact does not keep him from singlehandedly undertaking projects. He’s stubborn that way.
The first part of his body to suffer was his left thumb. Patrick lost all feeling there from repeatedly banging it with a hammer. A week later, he skidded along the roof, resulting in cracked ribs. Those two accidents were easy for him to hide among friends and colleagues.
Not so the torn rotator cuff. The day of that incident, I heard a groan outside followed by utterances directed to our Lord. I somewhat reluctantly set aside the book I was reading to check on Patrick. He looked fine despite being horizontal on the pine straw where he lay clutching his left arm and glaring at the toppled ladder. The cordless drill Patrick had just bought balanced precariously on the roof.
“Did you slip and fall?” I asked. Duh.
“No, I did not,” Patrick answered with dignity. “The ladder slipped.”
Supposedly, the ladder was the one in an accident, but it was Patrick who wore an arm sling for several weeks.
When Patrick and Isabella completed the exterior of the house, I painted it. That was my one contribution to the project. We stood back to survey our work and felt gratified. Isabella said she might like to build things when she grows up.
“Houses?” Patrick asked.
“Houses but maybe airplanes, too,” she said. “I could build an airplane and then push that cool cart up the aisle.”
That can wait. The playhouse complete, I’m not eager for any other building projects.
For now I’m content to look into our backyard where, three decades after my magical playhouse was lovingly built, another playhouse is creating happy memories for a 6-year-old girl.
Contact Melanie Coughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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