Darrin was 2½ when he decided to help his grandfather build a bedroom in the basement of his parents’ home.
Right after breakfast, he went off to work downstairs, properly equipped with a fresh diaper. He found his grandfather in the basement bedroom.
“You working today, Grandpa?” Darrin asked rhetorically, pudgy little hands tucked in the back pockets of his tiny blue jeans.
‘Too cute!’ Grandpa thought, wishing he had his camera.
“Yes, Darrin,” Grandpa replied, surveying the drywall he’d finished installing the day before. “Time to get these walls ready for painting. Would you like to go upstairs and get your tools?”
Darrin’s dark brown eyes sparkled. His cherubic face was lit instantly by an ear-to-ear grin.
Up the stairs Darrin scrambled on all four, heading for his bedroom on the second floor. There, he donned his clear plastic ‘Bob The Builder’ backpack filled with his construction tools. Darrin set his bright yellow ‘hard’ hat firmly on his head and made his way downstairs, reaching up for the handrail overhead to steady his descent.
Back down in the basement, off came the backpack. Darrin unzipped the clear plastic flap. Out poured his entire collection of tools: a red screwdriver, a hammer with a blue handle and yellow head, a bright yellow ruler — all plastic except for the #2 Phillips screwdriver he’d appropriated a few weeks earlier from his Grandpa’s toolbox. Darrin was ready for work.
This was the day his grandfather had decided to apply the first coat of plaster to the screw holes and seams in the drywall. With Darrin’s special help, the job took about twice as long as expected.
While Grandpa’s attention was elsewhere, Darrin had dug a large trowel deep into a bucket of wet plaster. At that point, what else was Grandpa to do but let Darrin smear it on the walls just like he’d watched his grandfather do it (more or less)? Darrin agreed this was fun.
Fortunately, Darrin could reach up only about 38 inches, and that was a good thing. Otherwise, Grandpa later would have had a much larger area of wall to scrape and to sand, to return it to being paint-ready.
Predictably, the novelty soon wore off. Darrin decided to end that chapter of the Great Plaster Caper when the drywall compound on his hands began to dry. The feeling of plaster shrinking on his skin was just too creepy. He called for Grandpa’s help. With his hands finally clean, Darrin suddenly had a compelling need to go find out where his dog Jackson had got to.
Ah, but the Great Plaster Caper did not end there. Nor, did wee Darrin’s influence. Some lessons flowed from that episode, including Darrin’s latent legacy:
It went something like this: At some point in a project, you might reasonably conclude that you are done, moving back to survey the accomplishment. Right. But while backing up, you just so happen to step on an errant screwdriver . . . left behind by that wonderful grandchild. Whereupon, you loose balance and fall back heavily, crashing into the unpainted wall behind you.
That’s when you discover a sharp plaster trowel you forgot in you back pocket is now imbedded in the wall. You utter some words that bear resemblance to a prayer . . . well, sort of . . . a few words are similar.