Today, my oldest son said to me, “When are we going to finish the playhouse?”
“Someday,” I said.
“But what day?”
“Well, it will take more that one day.”
“Aww, but I want to finish it in one day.”
“OK. Should I go and hire a crew of people to help us with this?”
“And are you going to pay for the flooring, the paint, the bunkbeds, and, oh yes, the sledgehammer that we need to demo the wall and the shelves in there?”
“Yes. Wait. How much is that?”
“I don’t know but my guess is a couple thousand at this rate.”
“OK. And then at what part does the crew send us as a family to stay in a hotel?”
“Yes. We get to do part of a craft project and then Antonio sends us to a hotel.”
Oh good grief.
“Honey,” I said. “That’s just TV. Real projects don’t work like that.”
“Aww, why noooot??”
I lay the delusions of my children entirely at the feet of the very shiny Antonio Sabado, Jr., he of the highly produced Fix It & Finish It do-it-yourself show.
The conceit of the show: they “surprise” a homeowner (who appears at the door in full makeup and hair done) by showing up with a crew of designers and workers to complete one major renovation in 12 hours.
And as you may have guessed, my older son’s favorite part is when Antonio makes the homeowners hammer two nails in crookedly with their spaghetti-like arms before sending off the entire family to spend the day in a hotel.
Well, my eldest comes by his goals of comfort honestly.
But the truth is, there is a total of zero DIY projects in this house that will take one day to complete without the help of a former General Hospital star and a camera crew.
When you live in a house that is 60-plus years old, you live under the specter of knowing that somewhere, something is in need of fixing.
Even if you just finished replacing the entire HVAC system in year two of your time in the house (yes this happened and no, we were not expecting that), and you’re sitting on your porch relaxing, having your little glass of wine and listening to the birds, you still have a list of about 87 things that need to be done around the house.
Well why on earth would I then purchase an older home. I’ll tell you why.
- Because the downstairs bathroom floor tiles are original black and white hexagons that make me happy.
- Because the upstairs bathroom is wall-to-wall 1950s green tile, with built in ceramic green toothpaste holders. The holders do not actually accommodate a children’s toothbrush of today, but that is irrelevant because it was made at the time with love.
- Because the kitchen is an old school Mamie Eisenhower knotty pine eat-in thing of beauty and antiquity that makes you want to put on a frilly apron and pearls, take your diet pills and clean the house like a speed freak (I do not do this). Sure there’s not enough counter space to really go nuts with the Christmas cookies. And there’s no open-concept floor plan and no kitchen island. As a matter of fact, the kitchen is laid out kinda weird, if I’m honest. But, it has a custom pressed copper work of art built in to the cabinets above the microwave that contains grapevines, loaves and fishes and dogwood flowers. So of course I needed this in my life.
- And of course, we have the playhouse.
That playhouse was also built at the same time the house was built. It has a little concrete porch and a foundation and real roof shingles and everything. It has two doors in it. The story behind that: apparently, Mama and Daddy had two daughters who didn’t get along. So they built a playhouse with two doors.
Now listen. I don’t know what girls you know who grew up in the 1950s, but the ones I knew were not indulged in such a manner. If my mother and sisters did not get along, my grandfather would not be building them even imaginary separate doors to their imaginary playhouse. Most likely, their fighting would be ignored until it was time to distribute whoopin’s all around.
Sadly today, the playhouse is not what it once was in the 1950s. I imagine there used to be endless games of pretend school in that little building. When we bought the house, its most recent use was as a shed. The old linoleum is oil stained, and it’s mostly wall to wall shelves.
Our plan is to rip out the center wall, cover the floor, repaint the entire interior, and bring in some bunkbeds. What kid would not love a little bunkhouse in his out backyard?
I realize it’s not a huge project or even a very expensive project. But as a less-than-necessary DIY project, it fell by the wayside.
And now, four years into home ownership, my kids are starting to push to some progress on the playhouse. At ages 8 and 5, I don’t blame them.
The problem is, they have unrealistic expectations. You see, the fella and I are pretty strict about the kind of grown-up shows they get to watch on television. If it’s not a kid’s show, then it’s one of three things: science-based, baking/cooking competitions, or DIY house fixing shows.
And because of this, they think the entire project can be finished in one day. They don’t really see the problem when I list off all the materials we need to buy. Not to mention that the distribution of labor among the four of us will mean it will be finished more likely in four consecutive weekends, and not in one day.
So, what I think I’m going to do here — notice I said THINK, because I make no promises, because I know myself — is give an update on our progress on the playhouse. Because the truth is, I would like to get this done while they’re still young enough to enjoy it.
Even if I suspect they will never actually sleep in there overnight. How do I know?
Exhibit A: “If we do finish the house in one day, I would like to go stay at the Quality Inn,” he says.
Also like his mama, he likes a good, hot free breakfast.