Do-it-yourself. As I was growing up, my dad did a lot of DIY projects, only it wasn’t called DIY back then – it was just called “being useful” and “saving money”. Car repair, house repair, and construction projects were all a fairly regular thing around our house. As a result, there was always something for me to learn. Starting with the time-honored task of holding the flashlight for Dad, moving to figuring out how wrenches turned and hammers were swung, then exploring the exciting-yet-dangerous world of power tools, my upbringing taught me a world of skills that I would grow to appreciate in my older days. We were by no means polished professionals in our work, but I learned enough to hold my own in most projects.

Throughout my “education” during these projects, there were never any formal lessons. It was more the fact that there was work to be done, my dad needed help with that work, and he had two sons that might as well assist – and if they learned something along the way, that was just a bonus. Things were never framed as “learning”, we just helped out as we grew up and magically turned into adults that knew how to do things.

I’ve gotten old, and have a son of my own now. My wife and I have a house that needs fixing, cars that break down, and a yard that threatens to do us in. There’s always something to be done, and without consciously deciding to do so, I’m training my twelve-year-old son to use his hands in the same manner that I was taught.

When he recently decided that we needed a plyo box in our home gym, I told him that there was no way we were just going to pay for one from a store. For one, I’m cheap…and plyo boxes are not. Also, in the midst of this pandemic, most gym equipment is sold out and unavailable. DIY would be the way we went about getting our own plyo box.

He got sent online to find some box-building plans, and then we worked together to measure, cut, and assemble our plyo box. He got practice in reading a tape rule, safely running a circular saw, and driving screws. Turns out that we did not have adequate tools to make the box handles like we wanted to – but we managed to hack a few passable handle holes in the sides and ended up with a sturdy, multi-height plyo box for just the price of a sheet of plywood and an hour of our time.

There’s no official lesson plan, no sense of teaching – just the two of us using our own hands to turn a “want” into a “have”. In addition to the DIY skills he’s gaining, he’s learning a sense of accomplishment and pride in himself that I hope will last a lifetime. I’ll always remember the pride he showed as he looked at the finished product, and I hope that, someday when he’s older, he’ll have the same memories of working with his dad that I do from working with mine.

DIY Memory-Making, indeed.

Measure Twice, Cut Once
Box Assembly
Blast Off!