One of the best things about owning your own five-year-old is that five-year-olds are notoriously easy to impress.
Take home repair, for example. When my daughters were both little and something around our house needed mending, my girls lived in constant awe of my amazing “thing fixing” abilities. I couldn’t have commanded more respect and admiration from them if I had been Thor, the mighty God of Thunder and Home Improvement himself, smiting evildoers with lightning bolts during the day and using my hammer to hang perfectly aligned picture frames every evening.
I played home-repair hero every chance I could:
Youngest Daughter: Daddy, the toilet seat is wobbly again.
Me (looking focused and serious): Hmmm…wobbly, huh? This looks like an important job for my Phillips-head screwdriver. I’d better get my toolbox.
Three minutes and fifteen screw-tightens later…
Me: There. All fixed.
Youngest Daughter: Wow! Thanks daddy! You’re fantastic!
Me: Take that, Bob Vila.
But such moments don’t last. According to my calculations, my kids are aging at the rate of exactly one birthday per year, which means the magic days of daddy-dazzlement have long since passed. My girls are now teenagers – jaded, cynical, world-weary. They know everything, they’ve seen everything, and absolutely nothing impresses them anymore.
Me: Look sweetie, using only an old paper clip and this pile of extra dryer lint, Daddy just confirmed Einstein’s theory of relativity AND discovered an inexpensive alternative to fossil fuels!
Eldest Daughter (rolls eyes): Whatever.
Sadly, my kids are now fully aware that I’m not very adept at fixing things. A friend of mine spends his spare time rebuilding engine transmissions in his basement. Me, I’m even money to end up with stitches from trying to open the tricky clasp on my toolbox.
Still, whenever a situation calls for me to employ my “guy” skills – skills that should have been genetically passed down to me from previous generations of alpha-males – I’m pretty good at looking the part.
I’ve mastered the sort of guy pretend-stuff that occurs when, for example, I visit a car dealership and the salesman opens up the hood of a new car for me to examine. Rather than admit that I wouldn’t actually know if the engine was placed completely backward, I furrow my brow, make a masculine grunting sound, and simply nod my head for a moment before gingerly stepping back to avoid getting my hand stuck when the hood closes…again.
Sometimes I even get my hands dirty. I recall a time last summer when we had a hairball the size of a Schwarzeneggerian gerbil clogging our bathtub drain. You couldn’t take a shower without the tub filling knee deep with water, which afterward would drain at approximately the same speed as an advancing glacier.
The hammer-wielding Thor side of my brain sprung into action, and I decided to fix it myself. After a quick trip to our local Home Holy-Smoke-Tools-Are-Expensive Depot, I had that drain dismantled in no time. Two hours and several hundred persistent pokes with my new plumbing snake later, the Ad-libbed pipes were as clean as a whistle.
Unlucky for me though, I had tackled the project on a Tuesday night, and I didn’t have time to reassemble everything. It then took me the next three evenings to figure out exactly how to put the stupid drain back together.
The fallout was disastrous. Imagine, if you can, the combined wrath of two inconvenienced teenage daughters and an extraordinarily annoyed wife who all had to wash their hair in the kitchen sink for three days straight. Even mighty Thor would have been frightened.
As a result, I’m now quite choosy about the home repair jobs I take on. My mighty Thor side keeps his hammer carefully stored in a dusty toolbox tucked on a shelf in the basement, and he only brings it out for small, safe projects, like changing the batteries in the TV remote control.
On the other hand, it’s only Friday morning, I have an entire weekend ahead of me, and one of the towel racks in the upstairs bathroom has been a bit wobbly lately. If I started now, I bet I could have that sucker fixed before I have to go back to work Monday.
After all, what could go wrong?