My 8 year old daughter was diving again in trash cans at our neighbors. It’s a skill she learned from her teenage brother, who often ran away with planks thrown in while renovating the house next door. This “dumpster” was nothing more than a giant green bag made of a heavy-duty woven material supplied by a waste management company. The 4 x 8 x 3 foot item came with straps, so it could be hoisted onto a truck. The yellow straps looked like ribbons on top of a flat parcel, and my kids were delighted to remove treasures from this great green gift in the front yard from our neighbors.
My teenage son had designs on a backyard ski ramp. My daughter, following her lead, dug through the trash until she found something she needed. If you found a 1 inch sheet of plastic foam, wouldn’t you immediately think “American Girl Doll Bunk Bed”?
My daughter met me in our garage with her treasure, proudly announcing that she had found mattresses for the bunk bed of her dolls.
She was, I knew, referring to the store-bought doll’s bunk bed that broke two years ago. It had stayed in our attic, with my promise to fix it. But after hearing nothing more about it – that it had been messed up or needed fixing – I quietly took it to the landfill on a Saturday a year ago. I confessed this sad news to my daughter.
Undiminished, she looked at me with expectation. “It’s okay, daddy,” she said. “You can Make a.”
She knew I had a circular saw and, I thought, now I was wondering how to turn a sheet of plastic foam into a bunk bed. Before assuming that she was truly asking for the impossible, I tried to clarify her goals, as any backslid parent would.
– Of course, I suggested. “Let’s cut two to the right size. We will put these mattresses on your bedroom floor and your dolls can have a sleepover! “
She had none of that.
“No, I mean a bunk bed, where a doll sleeps on top of each other. Just like the one I used to have.
Trying to imagine how to glue bedposts to a piece of plastic foam, I asked, “Does this have to last more than a few days?” ”
“It must last always!” she said.
Despite the pressure from this extremely high level, an idea slowly began to form as to how this might be possible. It seemed to me that someone could make a simple wooden bunk bed frame to hold two plastic foam mattresses. I thought someone was me.
We got down to work. I told him what it would look like. She approved and helped me mark pieces of wood to cut. In less than an hour, we had a wobbly bunk bed frame (with mattress) screwed up with big gray drywall screws. I know next to nothing about woodworking, but I do know that proper furniture usually has drilled holes and dowels, dovetail or box joints, or other inconspicuous types of joints that I don’t know. how to do. But that’s okay, because that’s not what she ordered. Besides, why try to build a doll bed that would only impress another parent?
The bunk bed took an hour to build. My daughter loved it. And although it was so unstable that I had to carry it up to its room and lean in a strong wind, it was quite solid.
The bed not only served him well, but it also allowed me to pretend I was much more of a handyman than I am.
You see, my daughter didn’t know that I knew so little about making things. I didn’t have a lot of experience with this growing up. I never saw my dad use any tool other than a screwdriver, so this fragile doll’s bunk bed, with its plastic foam mattresses held in place by finishing nails, was one of my finest achievements. in carpentry.
A few years later, when that doll’s bunk bed broke, she confidently said to her mother, “Everything is fine. Dad can fix it. He has tools. He can fix anything.
Her mother and I looked at each other and smiled. My wife surely remembered the pot rack I had made years before – also using drywall screws. But she agreed with our daughter.
I’m happy to carry on the idea that with the right tools, Dads can do it all. And while it might not last forever, at least it will last long enough.