As a parent, of course, I consider my children—my wondrous, precious offspring—to be the most blessed of glorious gifts.
Why, I treasure each and every moment I spend with them as if that moment were a tiny piece of heaven forever captured inside my soul!
I would never tell them that, of course.
Instead, I regularly find myself telling them things like “The left front tire of your car looks really low. I’ll just assume you’re not checking the tire pressure as often as I have repeatedly recommended.”
What I’m really saying is “I care about you so damn much that I even want your PSI to be correct in all four tires! Please read this and refer to the second paragraph, about how every moment with my beloved babies is like a tiny piece of soul heaven!’”
But what they hear is “Boy. If you’re not going to bother to use the tire pressure gauge I bought you, you can at least pay close attention to possible bulging of the bottom sidewalls.”
Because that’s what I actually say.
Every so often, though, I get a chance to try to show my “soul heaven” feelings through a tangible item.
In June, our firstborn, 22-year-old daughter Hadley, will be graduating college and starting her first real job. She will be moving, with two other young women, into her first real apartment, a house in an historic and artistic neighborhood in the Cities.
A few weeks ago, she mentioned to me—casually, in passing—that she would like a toolbox for her new apartment. Just the basics for any minor repairs, hanging pictures, that sort of thing.
I immediately hung up the phone and announced the following to wife Lindy: “Well, Hadley has now formally asked me to take on a major role in the new apartment process. It sounds very much like the girls have decided to make me the unofficial Maintenance Supervisor of their new property. Not sure of all the details, but it does look like I’ll be taking on all building repair and oversight responsibilities with their new living arrangements.”
I’m guessing Lindy only heard maybe half of it, since I was already running out the door on my way to Menard’s.
There, I spent maybe 40 minutes comparing and contrasting all of the possible toolbox options. I lifted steel toolboxes up and down to test heft. I squished and unsquished canvas tool carrying cases.
Googled “must-have tools for apartments.”
Back at home, in our garage, I re-categorized my tool collection to look for duplicates.
I have, it turns out, six almost-identical hammers. Four almost-identical hack saws. And three almost-identical old-timey folding carpenter’s rulers. Just in case I change jobs and decide to be a woodworker in the 1920s.
I bought—or picked out extras from my tool collection—a hammer, pliers, a screwdriver with interchangeable bits.
Adjustable wrench, level, utility knife.
Allen wrenches, scissors, needle nose pliers.
I carefully organized them in the two-level tool box with removable top tray. Put the box away. Decided I was finished.
Then, the next day, I added a small drain snake, an outlet tester, safety glasses.
I hand-picked through my jars and drawers of random screws and nails and wall anchors. Bought a small plastic case with multiple compartments and filled that with the perfect collection of screws and nails and wall anchors.
Reorganized the tool box again.
And so it has gone for the past few weeks.
Packing tape, masking tape, duct tape. Sandpaper, Super Glue, small hand saw.
I eventually had to buy a bigger toolbox.
At this pace, by June, I will have bought and completely outfitted a maintenance van for Hadley to park near her apartment.
I get like this with other things, too.
I wish you could see the Car Survival Kits I made for each kid’s car. I bought waterproof duffel bags and stocked them with neatly wound jumper cables and wind-up flashlights, first aid kits and wax-dipped matchsticks, silver space blankets and water purification tablets. The bags are bright orange. They can double as buckets.
Finally, though, I got Hadley’s apartment toolbox just the way I wanted it.
As a final—final!—touch, I etched her initials—HJL—on the top.
Then, over the course of the last week, added a pair of work gloves, a magnetic stud finder, and some twine.