"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, March 4, 2010

tools and boys

Yesterday, Grant pleaded for a picnic and with the rare spring-like weather we were experiencing, I could hardly say no. With the sun warming our shoulders, we headed out and somewhere in our woodsy wanderings, we came across this little discovery:

Let me illuminate you. This would be a drill bit sticking out of a random split log, securely wedged and for no apparent reason. My father used to say, "You can have tools, or you can have boys, but you can't have both". I mused over this saying of his as a teen, not completely aware of it's true meaning. And I really only understood it's prophetic truth once I had boys and a husband who had tools.

See, my husband is a man among men. He loves his tools with a devotion unsurpassed. Socket wrenches, rotary tools, screw driver sets, we have metal boxes full of such treasures. And to a little boy, that's exactly what they seem. So I wasn't extremely surprised the first time I found a Robogrip in the grass of the yard. Then came the necessary lock down. Pad locks, key locks, big grey storage cabinets with combination locks. Still no Fort Knox for two boys. The tools vanish, disappearing into an unseen abyss and I hear my father's words. Yes, boys and tools cannot coexist in the same space.

One day, not so long ago, my husband spent an entire day looking for his hammer. His frustration boiled over when evening approached and he remained empty handed. Following a good night's sleep and hearty breakfast, his only words as he left to work for the day were "Have that boy find my hammer after kindergarten today". I figured he meant for me to have the boy find the hammer after kindergarten that day.

Home from school and backpack still on his back, I asked Grant where Dad's hammer was and watched as he wrinkled his brow and squinted his eyes in deep thought. "I know where it is. It's up on the hill" he said. And I replied, "Lead the way".

Off we set up the deer path between the hill to the back of our house and the one to the side, his eyes skimming the ground ever so carefully for a glimmer of metal. I followed expectantly. As the path narrowed to an end, he stopped and said "No, it's not here but I went this way." and he pointed up the rolling incline at the foot of the hill. Again, I followed suit, certain that we would catch that orange and silver tell-tail glint that meant the lost hammer was found.

Winding our way across the hill, inching closer to the summit, we scanned and looked though nothing was materializing. We came upon a clearing where branches had been leaned against a tree. "I'm tired Mom." Grant said propping himself on a fallen tree, legs swinging over the edge. I sat beside him and in our silence, listened to the wind come through the pines. After a time I ventured, "You don't know where the hammer is, do you?"

His deep sigh told me what I needed to know. "I don't", he admitted "But..." he hopped off the fallen tree, swung his backpack to ground, stooped to unzip it and poured out a full set of screw drivers and all the Allen wrenches of the world, "Since you're here, would you help me build this fort?"

I get it now, Dad. I still don't have don't have a hammer. But I do have my boy.

And I guess today we're going on a drill bit hunt.

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