Recently, a photo I posted on social media of BoyWonder on his hands and knees, painstakingly prying up old flooring in our kitchen, went viral-ish. Hundreds of people clicked to “like” it and many even engaged in conversation about what an amazing feat it was to see a young person working so diligently.
They really went wild when I explained that the project was his idea. He had not been assigned this task at all.
Yes, friends, he had willingly finished up a full day of college classes and come home to get to work tearing up a porcelain tile kitchen floor. He worked on that every night for days and into the weekend.
This old house
Raised in an old house, he knows no different. He’s been working on this house since he was 18 months old.
Nearly 21 years ago, I remember being pregnant with that boy, and sobbing, “my baby isn’t going to live in a dump.” He didn’t. Nor did his sister.
He did, however, live in an ongoing construction and renovation project.
In our earliest photos, he was in a baby swing or seat. By the time he was 18 months old, he was crawling in, on, and over any project we tried to undertake when he was awake (which, as I recall, was always).
We gave him a tiny hammer and a measuring tape and from then on he fancied himself construction foreman and right-hand man.
In the early years, we added time and, of course, numerous safety measures to protect him “on the job.” Many manufacturers are terribly remiss in not offering toddler-sized safety glasses.
Still, we soldiered on.
Able to help
When he was about 8 or 9, I realized, somewhat amazed, that he had morphed from ‘help’ that required extra time and patience, to the kind of help we really could use.
He and his 7-year-old sister, and a handful of similarly aged friends assisted us in dismantling and reassembling a swimming pool. They weren’t much for heavy lifting, but they sure could help hold and fold and carry tools.
By the time we renovated our bathrooms — both in the space of six months a few years ago — he was a regular pro. He has carried more debris, removed more nails by hand and replaced them with a nail gun (go big or go home, we say!) and installed not one, but two, bathtubs and a shower before his 18th birthday.
He has moved landscaping rocks, built a deck (twice) and repaired what probably amounts to miles of pasture fence.
When people ask now how we got so lucky to have raised two children to adulthood with neither getting into any trouble, I can only ponder that perhaps they were simply too tired?
Today, I am proud to have raised children who know and use the term “Kitchen shoes.” Definition: The shoes kept by the door of the kitchen because the demolition and debris are so deep that you can’t walk barefoot in there.
The other night I heard him tell GirlWonder that, after replacing her light switch with his father’s help, he would get her a new light switch cover.
We are thrilled with his interest in repair and renovation. Granted, I did mention to Mr. Wonderful that there is a slight chance that he’s planning to commit us and take over the house? I put my shirt on inside out the other day so I am making it fairly easy for him to make the case.
At this point, our kitchen renovation is stalled waiting for cabinets and flooring to arrive. I did see Boywonder carrying plywood in earlier, so I know it’s still in progress.
I used to tackle these projects with small children underfoot. Now I have the child working on it.
Home c. 1904
Young man c. 1997
Both have good bones, excellent character, and have been under construction for the last 20 years.