Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.
Today I’ve got my four-year-old grandson with me. In other words, somebody I can relate to on an intellectual level. As I sit here on my computer, he’s working on his. We do this a lot, except I think sometimes his output is a little more advanced than mine. He’s doing his ABCs, which everybody can understand. Even me. Some of what I write is a little less coherent.
Kids love to imitate the things we do. I remember my oldest grandson trying to write jokes for me to use onstage. Thinking back to how some of my own material did, maybe I should have given his jokes a try. But then I’d have to admit he’s funnier than I am, and that’s something no self-respecting comedian can do. Besides, his cut of the $12 after gas would leave me broke.
I’ll never forget the time we were driving in my truck and somebody in front of me was going annoyingly slow. I finally vented some of my frustration to the windshield (I do that a lot) and said, “Drive or get off the road!” My grandson, without missing a beat, offered a suggestion. “Flip ‘em off!” He was three. And no, he didn’t learn that from me. He learned it from his mom, who learned it from … well, never mind.
A few years ago, I decided to build a shed. Not because I couldn’t buy one that would do the job just fine, but because I smacked my forehead with a sledgehammer forty years ago and sometimes it makes me do stupid things. Okay, I hit it really hard. As in, lights out. I remember waking up to a group of guys standing around me and one asking, “Is that boy day-ed???”
So, when it came time for a new shed, I did what any real man does. I went to the lumber store. A sane man would have drawn a set of plans first, but if you’re talking about me that ship already sailed. That’s okay. I used to write Air Force maintenance manuals. Think about that the next time a C-130 flies over your head.
Still, I knew what I wanted to build, and I had a vision in my head. My grandson was too naïve to ask questions. He just assumed I knew how to do it. And three years later, it’s still standing proud. We did an awesome job, and he learned a lot in the process. All because a teenage boy wanted to hang out and bond with Grandpa.
He did most of the work and picked up a few new skills along the way. Like rough carpentry, siding, and roofing. But I still say his favorite part was tearing down the old one. I hooked a nylon strap to the inside of the roof and wrapped the other end around the axle of my truck, then handed him the key and said, “Knock yourself out!” It was down in two seconds flat.
As we stood back and admired the finished product (the new shed, not the old one), I told him “You’ve learned some new skills here. You may never want to do any of this again, but you’ll always know you can.” I told my daughter the same thing when she learned to replace her car’s brakes. That’s how I roll. Get them to do the work and make ‘em think it was a lesson.
My daughter never has replaced her brakes again. She decided it was easier to get a decent job and pay somebody else to do that stuff. But my grandson has found that he enjoys construction and remodeling. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s an honest living, and there will always be a demand for somebody with those skills.
Kids learn more from us than we think. Some of those things will serve them well in adulthood, and others will be a reminder of why they want something better. But all shape the person they become. So, share those experiences with them – the good and the bad. Let them see how you handle challenges. They’ll learn more from your approach than any skill you can impart.
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!
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