The kitchen table is split in half. The two ends are up in the air while the middle rests on the floor. My two toddlers think this makes the perfect slide, and to a point, they are right. I watch them go up and down, squealing and dodging splinters.
This is a blow to me, I won’t sugar coat it. We eat on that table. And now it is split in half on the dining room floor while my mouth hangs open in amazement.
I was tying my daughter’s shoe and put her up there so I wouldn’t have to bend down. Then she jumped off, into my arms, and the table split. Now it’s a children’s playground while I stand stunned watching the action.
After one last slide, my daughter suddenly realizes something in that way toddlers often do. A lightning bolt, an original thought, something that breaks through the play and chaos of young minds.
“Daddy, is the table broken forever?” she says. She realizes that this is the table where she does all her colors. Plays with glitter and unicorns. Eats nuggets and creates ketchup abstract art.
Who here doesn’t melt when you are called daddy by your little girl? Who can’t reach deep down inside themselves and find that hero? And who can continue to afford to replace all the crap that our children break? Not us, not dads. We’ve got college to pay for, weddings and ponies, little special stationary that will one day be used to drop little notes to our adult children so they know we are thinking of them.
Coming out of my shock, my frustration, I find the guy I want to be.
“Yes, honey,” I say.
“Forever ever?” she asks again. I can hear the tears behind her eyes.
“It’s broke, baby,” I say. I watch that first wetness fall. “But it’s not dad broke. Go get the duck tape and my drill.”
That has been my life for the last eight years. It’s not broke unless it is dad broke, and rarely do things ever get to that level.
The little plastic shopping carts that our kids all love to push around at first before they discover that it is way cooler to smash them into walls. Kids were Jackass before there was Jackass. Duct tape and my drill and those wheels can take another thousand demolition derbies.
Holes in the wall? Child’s play. Literally. Duct tape, drill, spackle and then we threw some glitter on it because everything looks better with glitter.
The whistle that gets bent out of shape and at first that I’m not too upset about. I become upset when my son holds it in his little hand and says “please Daddy?” You bet your sweet butt. Duct tape, drill, and a hammer gets it close enough so those shrill sounds ride again.
On and on it has gone. Doorbells, creepy dolls whose voice boxes have gone out, and aluminum siding. I’ve gone through enough rolls of duct tape that I could rebuild the space shuttle and make it a bit better on re-entry. I don’t always use my drill, but it has turned into my good luck talisman in repair work. Hammer and nails, screws and drywall, molly bolts and picture frames; I call that Monday.
This is what dads do.
I had no idea what a drum belt was. I do now. It makes the big wheely thing on the dryer go around. Requires lots of duct tape.
The garage door gear busted because the kids decided that pushing the button a million times was way cool. It was. Duct tape, a drill, and an internet trip to Amazon for a new part.
A/C goes out? Don’t worry family, I know a dad and he’s got lots of duct tape.
And that table that was smashed in half all those years ago when my daughter really believed in the wonder of her father? It’s still not dad broke. It’s in a special room in the house where the kids still do arts and crafts. My daughter is thirteen now and she could jump on it if she desired. And when she comes to me with her first crush that goes wrong and her hearts broken, I’ll tell her the same thing I’ve said to her for her entire life.
Don’t worry baby, it’s not broke unless its dad broke. Go get the duct tape.