Spring is here. Finally! It has been a depressing winter of not much to do, especially with the pandemic shutting down anything remotely fun. At last, we can take the boys outside to play without spending 45 minutes getting them dressed for the weather. And considering most of those outdoor excursions ended after only two sledding trips down the hill in the backyard or two slips in the snow before one of them would get too cold or have to use the bathroom, I'm rather elated. This also means the new electric tractor Nana bought them for Christmas can be built and enjoyed on the now iceless driveway! As you can imagine, the boys were equally elated.
I'll say this. I feel as though I am somewhat of an anomaly considering that I typically enjoy
the assembly of children's toys and, oddly enough, box furniture too. Allow me to say, however, that I do not believe this makes me special, or a better parent in any way, shape, or form...just an odd one. Anyway, because of this strange deminer, I entered the tractor endeavor with a supreme confidence that embodied the main characters of all great tragedies before their epic falls. In my hubris, I even refused an offer from Nana to take the boys for a few hours while I assembled the much-anticipated tractor, thinking it would be a nice bonding experience with the five and six-year-old boys. What. An. Idiot.
I imagined them playing in the yard and fetching me tools and parts that I'd need while I read the well-written directions informing me of my next steps. There was no playing. Only climbing. Climbing on the unassembled tractor, climbing on my back, climbing on each other. There was no tool or part hand-offs, only the disappearance of critical pieces when I needed them. And the directions were the absolute, most convoluted, unintelligible, directions I've ever read. Let's fast forward a bit...
"There was a spring here, where is the spring?" I said, irritation staining the words.
"I don't know," the eldest replied, with a playful upward inflection. The aforementioned spring tucked neatly into his pocket. His brother had already tattled.
"I can't build this thing when you keep taking all the parts I need," I said, not yelling, but speaking in a resounding, Dad voice.
"Ugh, fiiiiiine," he says, handing it over, but not until I ask him several more times at increasing volumes.
"You keep up that attitude I will leave this thing in pieces in the garage, you want that?"
"No. Sorry, Daddy." This was but one exchange. So, for the sake of brevity, I will once again, skip forward.
After hours of tedious assemblage, the tractor was finally complete. And there was much rejoicing (I hope there are a few nerds that caught that reference). The boys ecstatically hopped in the seat and the eldest slammed on the gas. There was a problem, though. The vehicle would not move. The miniature car battery was still in the charger (I at least had the foresight to plug it in prior to starting the project), but it was still not fully charged. There was an inevitable mutiny. Copious amounts of tears flooded the driveway and wails of disappointment permeated the air. I had to physically carry them both up the stairs through the garage before cleaning them up for lunch (bad back be dammed). I was starving. And while they refused to admit it, so were they.
By the time lunch was prepared, inhaled, and beginning its digestion, I decided to see how the battery was doing. The charge was complete! And there was much rejoicing. I was the hero again. Which is one of those feelings you Iive for as a Dad. Of course, it would have been too easy for the battery to slide right into the compartment, and I ended up gashing open my hand trying to finagle the stupid connection chord out of the way so I could install the security bar.
"Buddy, don't climb in yet," I told my 6-year-old, as I was laying down in front of the tractor, tools in hand. "I have to make sure the battery is secure before you drive it,"
"Why?" He asked but didn't wait for an answer. He simply mounted himself on the seat and gunned the pedal. Remember, the battery was connected, so the tractor drove halfway up my chest before he realized it was a bad idea. There was yelling that time (And the other time also, as this inexplicably happened again, seconds later). Eventually, I managed to coax the security bar in place––after some light (albeit, frustrated) mallet work and some silently muttered swear words. The boys were on their way!
The eldest was a natural. He flung himself in the driver's seat and tooled effortlessly around the driveway, the younger cheering gleefully. There was some consternation when it was his brother's turn to drive, but the stubborn six-year-old was eventually convinced to relinquish the captain's chair. The subsequent ride with the younger at the helm was not so smooth. He could not seem to get a handle on the steering wheel and if not for the giant box I had left in the driveway, would have crashed directly into my truck parked below. It was established that the older boy would be the driver for today until the younger had more time to practice with no real-life obstacles to damage.
"Ah," the five-year-old yawned. "I'm tired, it's time to go home to go to sleep." he scooted out of the passenger seat and climbed into the giant box the tractor came in (the one he just minutes earlier cratered into). There, he went to sleep.
"Oh, me too!" The eldest exclaimed, following his brother's lead. Seconds later they both reemerged in a tizzy.
"Oh no! We have to get to work!" The six-year-old hollered. They both scurried back to the tractor and puttered across the drive to the stairs. Apparently, the deck was their new place of business. I, thoroughly enjoying the show, saw an opportunity to relax. I bolted up the steps with them and took root in my deck chair to play the role of their boss.
"Hey, you're late!" I would say, "Get to work! I want those TPS reports on my desk by the end of the day!"
"Beep, boop, bop," they cheered, as they feigned typing on an invisible computer.
"Done! Time to go home!"
Then down the stairs they flew to drive back to their house to sleep. I, seeing another opportunity, sauntered inside the real house for a moment to grab the book I had been reading...and, of course, another cup of coffee. Because honestly, what's a boss without a large cup of coffee?