Does That Bookshelf Really Have to Be Perfect?

I’m not a master craftsman.

Come to think of it, I’m not really a minor craftsman.

Our house and yard are full of things that are “passable.” It’s the retaining wall that isn’t quite straight. It’s the baseboard painting project that almost got all the nail holes covered. It’s the entertainment center with one upside down door. It’s the swing set that didn’t really get waterproofed and stained. All passable; none professional.

But for most of these projects, the imperfections are a mark of shame on my part. They could have been, however, a mark of honor, something that brings a smile every time you see it rather than a shake of the head and a mental, I should have…

Here’s what I mean: We have three small, but growing children. Three children who are endlessly curious. Three children who still, thank God, want to be with and hang around their parents. Three children who would love to have a paint brush or a hammer or a set of instructions written in another language in their hands. But I don’t let them do that enough.

No, because of my impatience, I’m more likely to wait until they’re in bed or plop them in front of a cartoon while I work on the project. But there’s a better way, I think.

The better way is to invite them in. To equip them with the cool tools they will need. Now as easy as that sounds, there are a few reasons why it will be difficult for someone like me.

It’s going to take longer. I’ll have to explain things over and over again, and they won’t be able to work as fast as an adult could. What’s more, it’s probably going to get messed up at some point, and I’ll have to patiently explain (if I know) what we did wrong, and then go back and do it again. It’s going to be messy, too, because paint and errant hammers will inevitably start flying.

But the benefit? Well…

The benefit won’t be the perfect bookshelf. It will instead be one with nicks and cracks and nail holes where they shouldn’t be. But something tells me that if I actually take the time to put together that thing, whatever it is, I won’t have a problem putting it in my yard, or in the living room, or on the table. In fact, my sneaking suspicion is that it will probably stay rooted to its place far longer than some of my other hastily completed projects. We could look at that leaning shelf in the corner, the one that can only really hold the paperbacks, and be able to say together, “Remember when…”

That sounds pretty good. And it sound a lot more solidly built than my leaning retaining wall.

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