Where thumbs go to die

Every first Saturday of the month, we pack up our complimentary, kiddie aprons and head off to the Home Depot kids’ workshop to build something.

This event provides a great opportunity for kids to learn how to use tools and for parents to go insane.

Okay, that’s hyperbole. Many parents at the workshop don’t go insane. Mostly, it’s only me. And even I’m okay, if we can bring as many parents as kids.

The problem arises when my wife can’t go, and I’m in charge of two little master builders with hammers. The projects always require hammers.

My boys are aged five and one. Five-year-olds are awkward with hammers. One-year-olds feel right at home with hammers, which is the more terrifying relationship.

hammer time

Let’s hammer some decals onto this airplane!

The projects are easy, and I can manage going back and forth between the boys. Right up until the kits require me to use one of those quarter-inch (6mm) wire nails. It’s hard to start such a nail, on account of it not reaching up past my fingers as I hold it in place. Also, I have to look around the corners of my seeing-things-far-away glasses to spy this little, close-up item hidden somewhere between my thumb and index finger.

This is when things, except my blood pressure, slow down. I’m helping the big boy pound a nail, using only my sense of touch, while the little boy builds his list of other things that can be hit with a hammer. Since my eyes are useless to the project at the moment, they are reassigned to standing guard over my kneecaps.

I’ve finally got my nail in the right spot with my thumb positioned to absorb no more than 60% of the tap, when: BANG!, the little boy brings down his hammer with both arms onto the plywood bench we’re hunched over. The piece I’m working on jumps, and it’s back to square one.

I eventually get the big boy’s nails started for him. He’s pounding away on them, and anything else within a six-inch radius. Time to help the little boy with his nails, which I have to hammer while walking, because his hammer was the only thing keeping him interested. Now that I have it, he’s going shopping, and I’m chasing him down – with a hammer in my hand. Nothing to see here.

Somehow, we get both boys’ projects assembled. That means it’s time to double down on adventure with . . . PAINT! I wear a Home Depot kiddie apron with my name on it, just like the boys. The lady in charge laughs at me every time I squeeze the neck strap over my head, but I’ve learned my lesson.


Who wants to get painted first?

We get our money’s worth out of that paint. We paint clothes, the workbench, nearby portions of Home Depot, and sometimes we even get a little color splashed onto our projects. The latter is always a bonus, because then we can take wet paint with us in the car.

When we’re done, the boys get pins for their aprons to signify completion of the project. I don’t get a pin, but each time I walk out of there with two thumbs, I’m happy.

trojan horse

Stickers instead of paint? This could be a major breakthrough in stain prevention.


22 comments on “Where thumbs go to die

  1. tom w says:

    When I bought my house 35+ years ago, women and children were not allowed in hardware stores. Men would show up on Saturday morning even if they didn’t need anything. You could swear and scratch to your heart’s content.

  2. You get the award for making me laugh in the middle of class every time I read one of your posts! Thank you for the dose of laughter 🙂

  3. I love it. In my house, with a 5 and 2 year old, I wear shoes all the time in order to keep all ten toes.

  4. Julie says:

    Aw, this actually sounds fun! I should take my girls and see how their hand-eye coordination is. Paint in the car, though…Oooooo.

  5. pieterk515 says:

    Thank goodness. I thought it was only me. I’m as handy as a rock.

  6. Andrew says:

    I remember one time when I was a kid, “helping” my dad with yard work. I turned the lawnmower on right as he was pulling away. Mainly because if you tell a kid not to push a button, he’s going to. He’s fine, and can still give thumbs up. But to think I almost made my dad Captain Hook.

  7. Traci says:

    I kept waiting for the little guy to launch that hammer at another wood carver in the group. Isn’t he the one with the great windup?

  8. Do they have these classes for middle-aged men? I could use a few lessons.

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    Your boys are seriously cute! You are such a good daddy 🙂
    Since I m not one to willingly walk into a Home Depot (or Lowes) I forgot all about these classes. Picturing Gage with a hammer is heart stopping BUT probably something we should tackle soon. In our case it would be best with a ratio of 2 adults to 1 kid.

  10. yearstricken says:

    I’m late in reading this and commenting, but I love it. I can easily your two boys with their hammers trying to nail you.

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