When I was nearing middle school, a teacher suggested that I should be tested for the school's gifted program. I breezed through the language sections. Then the test proctor pulled out a small box and emptied the contents on the table.
The wooden shapes, he said, would form a car when I put the puzzle together. He started a timer and I labored over the pieces, turning and twisting them but making little progress. When the timer buzzed he peered over my creation.
Although it should have been flat on the table, my car had overlapping pieces like an open car hood flapping in the breeze. The proctor furrowed his brow and asked, "Do you think anyone would drive a car like this?"
In the undiluted candor of youth, I answered, "Well, you haven't seen some of the cars my dad has driven."
I smiled. He made a note on his clipboard.
I never was admitted into the gifted program.
Whenever something broke with my one of my family's cars, my dad fixed it through whatever means possible. The interior upholstery on the roof sagged? He staple-gunned it. The driver's seat reclined too far? He propped it with a hand-cut section of a two-by-four.
My parents are the hardest working people I've ever known. My dad cuts down trees, paints three story house exteriors, and builds retaining walls out of cement blocks. But if you're looking for someone to fix an engine, he's not your man. He's never been one to be mechanically inclined with intricate details.
I've taken after him. I can follow directions, of course. Over the years, I've hung and spackled drywall and installed shelves and closet organizers. Still, I have a hard time envisioning what ought to be when I'm looking at what is. I do much better when I have pictures and directions.
So when I sat on the floor surrounded by the 19 pieces, 4 dial rods, and 45 screws that constituted the new bookshelf that my girls had been given, I chided myself that I had prematurely had thrown away the box. The box with a photo of the completed bookshelf that I could use as a guide. The box that contained the directions.
Thankfully, I had three helpers to peer over my creation as I labored over the pieces, turning them this way and that. Reese told me what I was doing wrong. Brooke sang to boost my spirits. Kerrington covertly put the screws in her mouth so I always knew where to find one when I needed it next.
The bookshelf looks great.
All thanks to my three helpers, of course.