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  • Writer's pictureJason Weening

DAD-VICE: DON'T STEP ON SCREWS!

HEY DADS!  What’s the worst part of building things with your kids?


Keeping people on task? Helping with tiny details? Maybe impaling your foot on exposed screws? That one’s my pick.


My boys, Justice (age 7) and Sterling (age 9) thought it would be fun to build a bike ramp (or three) one weekend. There was no way I was going to buy lumber for the job so the boys mounted a rescue operation and scoured the yard for re-usable wood.


In a short while it would become a literal rescue mission.


When we started the job I had this crazy thought: “I should take these five-year-old-free-giveaway-Toronto-Blue-Jays flip-flops off and put my work boots on.” I was too busy working to pay any heed to that silliness. Yes to flip-flops. No to work boots.


We built an eight-foot tall climbing wall last year that had outlived its usefulness so deconstruction began. Sterling and Justice handled the cordless drill and I handled the saw. 

Pieces of wood started to grow into a pile. I channeled my inner engineer and began measuring and cutting pieces for the ramps’ legs. The boys kept a steady supply of high-quality lumber coming.


How do you decide on the height of a bike ramp with your kids? Visions of hospital rooms danced in my head. X-rays, stitches, broken bones, the trophy stories of boyhood. Let’s see, four inches would have been an appropriate ramp height. 


We went with 16 inches.


I spent a lot of time thinking about risk and reward that day.  What’s the risk of this bike ramp? Kids falling off and getting hurt. What’s the reward? Kids having lots of fun! But isn’t that the routine of fatherhood? Moderating kids’ requests to do dangerous things. Jumping off docks, jumping off branches, jumping out of moving vehicles. Some risks are worth it. Some aren’t. 


We got the first part of the ramp assembled and ran out of used lumber. The boys said there was more lumber at the old climbing wall but they needed help to get it apart. Me and my Blue Jays flip-flops wandered over to assist.


We pulled out a few screws and got some boards off. Then we flipped some pieces over for a better look. I should have taken a better look at what I was stepping on. 

There was a nice jagged screw sticking up out of one of the pieces. I knew it was there because it had gone through my flip-flop and into my foot. I dropped like a sack of potatoes. The boys ran inside calling their big sisters to come tend to the wounded.


A limp to the house, some hydrogen peroxide, and one bandage later I was relaxing in the house with my foot in the air. But to the boys’ dismay, no bike ramp. Project abandoned.


We’ll revisit that another day. 


Things don’t always go as planned, do they dad? But we can’t just sit around. Try building something with your kids. Do a project together. Build a bike ramp. Step on screws. Get up and get out with them. You’ll learn to be patient and they’ll learn to wear work boots. 


You’ve got what it takes dad! Time flies. Make every moment count!


Have you ever been injured building something with your kids?  Tell us your story below:

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