Raising the bar by raising my children right

Last night, I finished up the top for the ‘planter’ by the front door. It’s cheap aspen from Lowes. I routed the edges with a 1/4 round-over, sanded it several times with 120 & 220 grit, then applied Minwax pre-stain.

Next came 2 coats of Minwax Red Mahogany stain, followed up by polyurethane, sanding, polyurethane, sanding, and polyurethane.

The results are gorgeous.

So good you can smell it. Literally. Polyurethane is smelly.

There is still a little work to do to properly secure it to the rock wall, but because I took a jigsaw to the back, it fits around the molding and is pretty snug.

Because of this success, I will be moving onto building a storage bench for between the garage & pool. This is the main entry point for us into the house and where the girls put their backpacks from school. The seat we had from the old house is too small and of such low quality that we need something else, so that’s next up on the to-build list (it also is why I’ll be getting a nice Delta table saw!).

However, I’m not going to do this alone. I’m going to have both of my girls, 10 & 13, out there with me to not only help, but to do some of the work as well. Maybe not the table saw, but I will have them help me joint the wood, drill the pocket holes, glue things down, and work a drill.

Schools educate children, but barely. Reading, Math, & Science are very important, but they only scratch the surface of what a person needs to understand to live. Spending 3 weeks on economics in “Social Studies” (a poor, poor substitute for actual history) doesn’t prepare a young adult to make good decisions about credit or how to properly save money.

We no longer do real home-economics. The 1 lesson on making pancakes isn’t teaching a person the basics on how to cook food. Kids have no idea how to determine if the 2lb box of pasta is actually a better buy than the 1lb box. Hell, half of the kids I deal with at fast food restaurants can’t even handle giving me the correct change.

Part of the problem of course is that schools aren’t really geared to do all of these things. A lot of this is a parent’s job to instill into their children. However, since so many parents can’t even handle their own financial affairs, change a tire, build a trellis, or figure out why the toilet isn’t flushing, they can’t pass on that kind of knowhow to their offspring.

I will not fail my children in this regard.

One of the many things I will instill in them is the mindset that you do not always require someone to do labor for you. I want to make sure they help me repair / improve the house so that when it comes time for them to weigh the opportunity costs of “DIY” vs. “Hire someone”, they can make an educated decision, not one based on the inability to do something.

I have ulterior motives here too. I am trying as hard as I possibly can to influence my daughters’ lives by example & reason. I want them to be strong & self sufficient so that when the day comes where they decide that this man is the one they want to spend their life with, he is a man worthy of them. I want that man held to high standards. I want them to pass over the ‘men’ who can’t take care of themselves. I want them to, by their very nature, find emasculated man-children worthy of disdain and not their time. Oh, you can’t even handle a table saw? Sorry, I’m busy this weekend… making a chest of drawers to keep your balls in.

I don’t necessarily want them to end up as carpenters, mechanics, or anything – but I want to make sure they have the opportunity to do that if they choose.

I’m in my 40s and just starting to do some of this. I’ve always been competent in such things as I’ve got, for some unknown reason, a pretty good gut instinct on how things mechanically work. I find writing code to be intellectually challenging & am learning that building things / repairing them feels the same in my mind. I hope to pass this on.

My dad did well enough having me help him with things, but it was always more as a “here, hold this while I try not to run the drill through your hand” than “here, do this so you understand why / how”.

I simply love my girls too much to rely on strangers to handle their entire education.

posted by by Robb Allen @
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