Daddy Talk: Big Purple Shed
My big summer project this year was to build a storage shed in our backyard. I’ve never built any sort of walled structure in the past, but I did install some shelves in our hallway closet a couple years ago. Based on this experience and on learning that my neighbor had a framing nailer I could borrow, I decided I was well equipped to build a shed.I also figured YouTube videos would come in handy.
As I planned out the project and then set about getting started, one thing I kept in mind, which is something I’ve discussed here before, is that I wanted to find some way to let the kids be involved in the project. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to let them do, because invariably, they want to try out the most dangerous aspects of any job: “Whoa! You have nail gun? Can I try?! Can I try?!” I didn’t let them try the nail gun, but one thing I also didn’t technically let them do, they did anyway. It happened when I was on top of the shed, hammering down some shingles. I heard a noise behind me, looked up, and saw Isaac and Tanner with me on the roof: “Hi, Dad!” Over on the ladder, my two-year old was almost up there as well. When I envisioned the kids being involved in building a shed, the vision did not include them running along the roof of one.
Another thing that’s hard to know is how their personalities are going to take to the jobs you give them. When I was installing the wooden floor of the shed, Tanner showed up and wanted to help. I marked some X’s on the floor where I told him to pound in some nails, and seeing how hot it was outside, I kind of chuckled as I marked ten X’s, thinking he’d never last that long with a hammer and a box of nails. No sooner had I had the chance to hook up the hose and the gun to the air compressor but Tanner called over, “Hey! I need more X’s!” I walked over incredulous to see that he had already pushed ten nails through the X’s that I had marked down. So I gave him more.
Isaac, the one I would have thought would have been good with the tools because he’s always fiddling around with them and making small crafts, did not last nearly as long. After completing the first two nails, he sat back with his cap and sunglasses, pulled out his mom’s iPhone, and listened to Kidz Bop on Spotify for the rest of the afternoon. As he sang along, I looked up and thought, “I’ve never even heard of these songs.” He’s a teenager before his time.
A final thing I noticed is that kids are stronger than you think they are. When my wife and I had to raise the front wall of the shed, it was obviously too heavy for me to pick it up by myself. But when Isaac and Tanner got beside me and helped pull, the wall came up. The same was true when we were moving the floor frame onto the pier foundation. I stuck grown-ups at three of the corners and then placed the two boys along with a neighbor girl on the fourth corner. Those three kids picked up the corner of the heavy floor frame, put it down on the correct location, and then scampered back into the house to play with action figures as if hoisting up a set of floor joists was…well…child’s play.
Now that the only thing left to complete on the shed is painting, the kids have agreed to help with that as well. But somehow I also agreed to let the whole family vote on a color. I fear that the kids will have us outnumbered and that we’ll end up with a bright purple storage shed in the backyard.
Tim Krason lives in Clinton with his family. By the time you read this, his new purple shed should be visible over the fence on the left side of his house.