However, I do remember all too well the moment I outwitted the man in the field he considered his true dominion: Home Improvement.
It was the summer that I announced I wanted to build a shed in the backyard. My 8X8 model was simply not enough for my needs and Dad and I decided to bond over the new construction. We had a great time tearing down the old structure and planning for the new one.
While shopping for cinder blocks and other foundational supplies at the local home improvement store, my father picked up a few bags of pea gravel to serve as the stabilizing material for the blocks, which would be partially buried below the grass line.
As the one paying for this caper, I couldn’t help noticing what the gravel cost and suddenly wondered if there might be an alternative material that would be better suited for the job. Against my better judgment, I decided to speak up.
“Hey Dad, why aren’t we using Play Sand in the holes instead?” I asked.
I assumed there had to be a reason for his choice. There always was. The man was a firm believer in the measure-twice-cut-once theory so surely he had thought this all through and had a reason why gravel was preferable.
You can imagine my surprise when he looked at the gravel, went into a contemplative stance and thoughtfully said, “You know? You may have a point there.” (I swear I nearly asked him to repeat it because I couldn’t believe my own ears.)
Encouraged by his willingness to hear me out, I suggested that wetting it and settling the sand ourselves would provide an even and more cost-effective way of leveling the blocks. I almost burst with pride when he removed the gravel from our cart and headed over to the sand pile to select three bags for our project. I don’t know if I was more excited about saving money or the fact that I thought of something he hadn’t, but I suspect it was a combination of both.
As it turned out, the shed was Dad’s last “big” project and remains one of the best lessons in building that I ever received. I learned the importance of planning ahead, having all of your materials in place before you need them, having a realistic understanding of what you can and cannot do, and above all…if you learn enough-you just might outsmart your Dad every once in a while!