I was at my most “dad” today in trying to find ways to tire the firstborn. With his brother quite ill and incapable of letting go of their mother, the oldest son and I took part in the grandest of weekend traditions; taping stuff together and hitting it.
There’s a funny thing about lumber left over from a project. With a thousand ways to recycle, resell, donate or discard unused planks of unusual sizes one would think there would be no reason to store left over pieces. But there’s something in the back of the head that screams in every tongue of the world “KEEP IT YOU FOOL! Save it for later. You might need it.”
The pieces of wood I used to build two little pine swords have been sitting in the garage since before the child was born. Pretty sure the screws holding the little hand guard piece are about that old too (because if you’re buying a box of screws it might as well have 5,000 of them in there). I do not remember buying the duct tape. It may have come with the house.
And that’s the fun part of impromptu projects. There is limitless possibility on a sunny day with spare parts and duct tape about. And if the grass has to be mowed desperately, it is the parent’s duty to attempt to find the limit of possibility.
The firstborn has long been fascinated with knights and swords and battling dragons. He comes by it honestly. So if we need to find a way for him to channel that boundless energy that comes with being four years old, incorporating the sword based destruction of bad guys into his play is always a sure bet. So we built swords and two battle dummies.
The battle dummies were actually very fun to put together. I tapped garden stakes into the ground and slid pvc over them. I thought “eh, good enough” as he went to sword fight the pvc pipe standing out of the ground. Then I summoned my embarrassingly extensive knowledge of fantasy video game scenes where an underdog army is busy training its troops in a field inexplicably located within the confines of the castle’s walls. What is the army training with? Battle dummies!
I had to make a top that could swing around. And I had to make it with available parts in less than three minutes or the kid would tire of the adventure and move on.
The spinning part is scrap lumber taped to sprinkler system pipe and stuck inside the pvc. I added little targets to the side made of more pvc parts and duct tape.
He was very excited for the spinning tops on the bad guys for all of a minute. After the minute of intense battle, he decided the tops looked more like the steering wheel of a submarine and he became an aquatic knight, carrying his sword to go save a stranded whale.
Project two of the afternoon was also turned into something new. The red board below once lived in our basement serving as a play table for the boys’ kitchen set. The big hole in the middle held a “sink” where they could wash food. Never dishes. The oldest made a point of that in both reality and play. It lost a leg between Wednesday and Friday. I have no answers.
So we knocked off the neighboring leg and made a tilted board with a hole in it game! I do not enjoy the word “corn hole” so we call the game “Tilted Board with a Hole in it Game!”.
The whole thing worked quite well. He played until well beyond he was both tired and hungry. He ate a complete dinner and fell asleep rather quickly. I have my doubts that he will care about the knight training apparatus tomorrow, but for one afternoon at least we got to play with duct tape.