Friday, August 13, 2010

Dads, Picnic Tables, and Lessons Learned (with a side of coleslaw)

When I was just a lad my Dad had the idea to build an extra long picnic table that was to stay on our patio so we could enjoy many family meals together. There are seven of us so my Dad decided to build an extra big one. My dad had all of the plans drawn up and everything ready to go. He went to the local home improvement store and bought all of the supplies; every nut and bolt. He came home and the boys helped him unload all the wood and stack it on our side yard.

I was young so I might not remember perfectly but I am pretty sure the wood never moved from the spot we originally stacked it. Year after year it sat there waiting for someone to just assemble the pieces. Now as I mentioned there are seven of us. Four boys, one girl and Mom and Dad. Anyone of us could have asked Dad after he got home from a hard days work if we could help him build the picnic table and I am sure he would have agreed and it would have been built, and knowing my Dad it would have been near perfect and we would probably still be using it when we came to visit. None of us did decide to ask Dad if we could build the table and taking/watching all of us to soccer, basketball, football, and cheer leading, scouts, mutual etc just got the best of Dad's time. The table was never built and the wood eventually got wet, became bowed and unsuitable for construction. Eventually, years later the wood was thrown into a dumpster as we did some major yard cleanup.

If you know my family, or even me very well , you will know that my father is teased incessantly about the picnic table that never was. I think it gets brought up at every significant family gathering along with his other famous missteps (the smartbeat coleslaw amongst my favorites). My Dad has had very few missteps like the picnic table and the ill-fated coleslaw but we seem to harbor those missteps as a family. It is all in good fun and not taken seriously by any of us, but I think we as a family should celebrate some of the cool stuff that my Dad has finished.

He made Justin blue-anodized drumsticks when he was in the junior high school band, he made replacement hood brackets for my volkswagon bug that was a much sturdier design than Hitler and Dr. Porsche came up with. He could also swap VW engines by himself in like fifteen minutes. He has figured out how to lay tile, wallpaper, and fix just about anything that breaks around the house. He designed (and by designed, I mean computer mockups of spray patterns to ensure even coverage, to scale, in CAD) and installed a sprinkler system with a little manual labor help from us boys and the Carr boys paid for in Slurpees and Chocodiles (if you don't know what a chocodile is, look it up). My Dad can build a mean guitar and has for all of the musicians in the family. He can do just about anything and has tried hard to instill a can-do attitude in all of us kids. He always taught us to "look it up" when we didn't know something so that we would learn for ourselves and has always said "I have never done that before but I know I can figure it out.

Sometimes I feel like this teaching has failed on me, but I am working on it. The other day I saw Reed in his little blue chair and saw how excited he was to have something his size that was all his own. I knew we were moving to a place with a little patio and I thought how about an extra small picnic table, just for the boys. I, of course, looked it up (synonymous with googling it) and found plans online. I had never really done much like this but I figured I could figure it out. I went to the local home improvement store and bought all the supplies and built that sucker before I could let something get in the way. I think it came out well and as you can see from the picture below hat Reed has enjoyed it already. Every time he has sat on it he has, without coaxing, said "thank you daddy." This means a lot to me. I hope that Reed can write a post on his blog (or whatever cool thing the kids are doing then) someday and can list a few thing like I did here about his Dad and maybe feel a portion of the love and admiration I have for my Dad.

The boys picnic table in its new home, our little concrete pad.
The table is about twenty in inches tall. The table top is 35.5 X 20ish.

Reed loving his new picnic table before it was even done (each bench is missing a slat), he couldn't resist the urge to sit on it any longer so Meg let him eat lunch on it today.

I love my Dad even if he didn't finish the picnic table he had planned. He has more than made up for it with other things. Will we stop teasing him about the picnic table?(I know the coleslaw isn't going to be forgotten for a long time) If you know the Hamblys you know the answer to that question, but hey, I tried.


Mandi said...

Pretty awesome that you can be such a good dad to Reed. I can tell by the smile on his face that he loves that you built that table for him. He is such a little cutie. I miss that cute face of his! I need to come up to Cedar and play...

m.dahl said...

Awesome job Ryan! It is so cute!! Although your dad stories sound great I don't know if they compare to my dad "Good Time Harold". Keep making the memories!

Audrey Spence said...

I love the Hambly family... your parents are so awesome. Pretty much one of the coolest families to hang around ever... and your dad is such a good guy. Love the little table, its so cute! Oh and by the way... your little boy is so adorable!

Heather and Spencer said...

The table looks great, good job!!! And...who doesnt love chocodiles?!? Those are the best!