We’ve worked hard over the last few years to eliminate junk food from our household, but despite good intentions, it was still around quite a lot when my daughters were little. I guess it was just easier to appease them with junk food and television while we worked to improve our living circumstances. We had even put together a small urban farm complete with chickens and a modest garden in an attempt to adopt better eating habits. The house had come with an old aluminum storage shed that was in disrepair, but the chicken coop usurped the shed’s former position in the yard.
I had the terrible idea of using the existing wooden frame and reconstructing the shed with a charming wooden exterior complete with ornately carved trim. Of course, I couldn’t just demolish the whole thing and buy a new shed (something that could have been accomplished in a weekend). I needed to recycle and make use of existing materials. I needed to construct something with my own hands that I would be proud of and that my children would adore for generations. I believed that our adoption of a purely organic lifestyle in all things would transform our children’s mindsets into preferring only those things in life which were whole and good.
My weekend efforts in reconstructing the shed were still ongoing two years after the project began, and its former contents had taken up residence in our detached laundry room. Every time an item was needed, the stacks of tools and supplies that stood from floor to ceiling were rifled through and reshuffled until they became an unruly pile of clutter. A simple screwdriver retrieval operation one day resulted in me lying in a pile of paint buckets, covered in fishing tackle, with a paint roller hanging on the end of my toes. All of this originated from a misplaced step on said paint roller, followed by an attempt to brace myself on a Styrofoam cooler which immediately betrayed me. My final act was to unseat my tackle box from its perch on a loosely stacked pile of extension cords while descending upon a stack of paint cans.
The resounding crash, I was certain, was sufficient to alarm the household. Within seconds, my carport door was flung open, and my oldest daughter called out, “Dad?” Well, I thought, at least it’s nice to know I have a miniature cavalry to come to my aid in times of need. However, not wanting to sound hurt, I responded in my best voice, “Yeah…in here.” I tried to return to my feet before she reached the door, but finding myself immobile, I was still lying prone with the paint roller hanging from my toes when she peered around the laundry room door and called out again, “Dad?” Awaiting the rush of sympathy, I forced a smile, shrugged my shoulders, and said, “Hey…down here.” “Oh, there you are,” she said. “Can I have some Cheetos?”