Funny thing how opportunities arise unexpectedly, especially when children are involved. Let’s face it, kids can be mercurial, and I think a part of that springs from their innate sensitivity to the world around them.
The opportunity that came to mind was that recently, while visiting relatives, I was offered a second-hand propane Weber grill. Now if you know me and my proclivity for cooking, grilling year-round is a big part of that. I couldn’t say no to the offer, even though the thing had been well used, and was old when my brother-in-law acquired it, and so on (reason after reason not to take it). It worked perfectly, and is even painted dark green to match the shutters on my house (or so I mentioned to my wife). Ah, my wife. Of course she has a role here. After all we had taken her new, pristine car on the weekend away, light-tan interior and all. The thought of shoehorning a sooty, dismembered grill into it made me cringe. As usual she was completely onboard, with a slow shake of the head betraying her good-humored disbelief.
Of course the grill fit. And though some of the loose parts jangled a bit on the way, we had an uneventful and traffic-free journey home.
My daughter, over the course of the three hours in the car seemed to grow very interested in the grill jutting into the back seat. And so when I arrayed the various parts on the patio at dusk after that long drive, she insisted on throwing on her cowboy boots (easy to slip on) and finding a baseball cap (I was wearing one) to help me. And suddenly what I thought was going to be the next day’s project began to come together in the fading light.
The supporting frame and legs of this grill are easy to assemble and have bolts that fit into threaded holes, and my daughter wanted to put a couple of them in herself. I showed her how the bolts go in easily when you have them lined up properly, and of course, by hand, that they won’t go in at all when they’re cross-threaded. I showed her how to try turning it (she has a natural understanding of right-hand thread and which way to turn bolts, faucet valves, and everything else that I wholly lacked at her age), and when it didn’t go in easily and immediately, to back it off and adjust the angle slightly then try again.
It’s just easier to show someone than to explain it (or, it turns out, to write about it). And it’s gratifying to see how she got it, and picked it up so quickly.
This is a very, very small version of what I hope to do with my daughter and the boat: To get her excited about the prospect of doing something together, and learning along the way.