My dad is a do-it-yourself kind of guy. He cuts his own lawn (at two houses), paints his own walls (naked), installs his own dock and boat lift (with minor disasters) and does his own bathroom renovations. And for as long as I can remember I have been his trusty assistant. When I was younger he had to bribe me to help, now I have to bully my way in. He is getting older and I don’t want him to break a hip or anything. If he did, I may have to figure out how to finish the project alone!

My dad is currently renovating the master bathroom at his lake house. It’s a fairly large undertaking since he is moving plumbing. He started demolition last week. Of course I have been there for a lot of it. Destruction is kind of my thing. I got to go swing a sledge hammer at walls for hours at a time. That’s not work, that’s therapy. One day while I was hammering out six inches of tile and cement my dad thanked me for my help. I thanked him for my anger issues which were clearly driving that work vehicle. Truth be told, my dad is one of the few people who doesn’t invoke anger in me.

Home improvement projects have always been a family affair. I grew up with a hammer in my hand and we are trying to place my daughter on the same path. We have attempted to include her as often as possible in work projects. Unfortunately, she doesn’t yet have the kind of anger issues that would lead her to hammer therapy, but a few more years with me should do it. My dad gets her to work with him by paying her. Bribery has always worked with her too. He gets this child to pick up filthy seaweed from the shore in the summer and crusty old leaves in the fall. It’s amazing to me since I can’t get her to pick up the clothes from her bedroom floor, allowance or not.

Today she came out to the lake after school to help demolish some walls and haul out the trash. She actually wanted to work and took part in every aspect of the project. I did have to take a broom away from her after she almost sterilized me while I was facing the opposite direction. I’m not sure what she was trying to sweep but she managed to position the handle in between my legs and pull up at the same time. Luckily I am still quite a bit taller than she is or some emergency room worker would have had an interesting story to go home with tonight.

After a few hours of hard labor we called it quits and headed home. As soon as we got in the car my daughter asked “am I getting paid for this? Grandpa always pays me.” I told her she had a choice, she could either be helpful and do the work for free like the rest of us were doing or she could get paid. The catch was if she got paid she would have to pay my dad every time she used the bathroom in the future. I thought that was a fair trade. She responded with “how much would it cost to use the bathroom?” At least she is using her math skills!

I wrote this piece while covered in dust and listening to Ratboy (how appropriate).

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I’m Jen. I am a mom, wife, daughter, friend and often times the bad influence your mom warned you about. I am good with words, numbers and dysfunctional people. I tend to find humor in situations that aren’t really funny and I laugh at my own jokes.

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