“Dada, please fix this!”
I always cringe when Will asks me to fix something because, well, I’m not a fixer. I’m not lazy or anything like that, I’m just not mechanically inclined. At all. I know that’s heresy for “real men,” but it’s true. I don’t own a tool belt and the tools we do have in the house belong to my wife. Her DeWalt cordless power drill is one of her prized possessions, but I doubt I’d be able to change the drill bit. I’ve never changed a tire, I can’t repair the ice maker in my fridge and I have no idea where the carburetor is located in a car’s engine or what purpose it serves.
I know men are supposed to be endowed with a love for home repair, a desire to take things apart and see how they work and a do-it-yourself spirit, but my spirit tells me to call the appropriate repairman.
Will approached me this morning with his favorite toy airplane. It’s an old-fashioned biplane and he absolutely loves it because the propeller spins at the push of a button and the wings fold in for easy storage. But the problem is the plastic pieces that attach the top and bottom wings together had snapped completely off. And because everything has to be perfect in Will’s world, the fact that the top and bottom wings were moving independently as opposed to a cohesive unit was very troubling.
He ran up to me, sadness in his eyes, and asked me to fix it. But there was nothing I could do to replace those plastic pieces.
ME: I’m sorry buddy, but it’s broken.”
WILL: “You fix Dada.”
ME: “Bud I want to fix it and I wish I could, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s really broken.”
WILL: “Dada try.”
With a sigh, I took the plane and went to work. At first I tried to tape it but that didn’t work out so well and I actually ended up damaging the plane even more. MJ was at work so I couldn’t pass it off to her, and when I again tried to explain to Will that it was broken I was met with sad puppy dog eyes that begged me to fix it.
In a last ditch effort, I grabbed something I saw nearby and tried one more time. This is the result.
Yes. That is one of MJ’s hair ties. What can I say? I’m no Macgyver.
When I handed it back to Will I fully expected a meltdown. He tends to freak out when things are out of whack, even in the smallest manner. So I braced myself for a tantrum of epic proportions complete with the full body flail while splayed out on the ground.
Except it didn’t come.
Instead, he shocked the hell out of me. He took the plane with a huge grin and said “Thanks Dada!” as he flew his plane into the living room. No screaming and no tears. He looked curiously at the hair tie and he knew it wasn’t ideal, but he was just grateful that I tried to fix it.
As usual, my son continues to teach me much more than I’m teaching him
I realized not everything I do as a father has to be perfect. Will didn’t care that I couldn’t totally fix his plane, he was just happy that I took the time and tried to help him.
I won’t ever be perfect and I don’t have to be. But the thing I am required to do — that all fathers should always do — is try. Put in the effort. Because even though we know we’re not superheroes, our kids still think we are. And as long as we never stop trying to do the best we can for them, we kind of always will be.