A Real Swinger

I sensed trouble the day my husband returned from the store with a stack of boards, a plastic slide, and two swings laying in the back of his truck.

"I bought a wooden play structure for the kids," he said. "They're gonna love it!"


"Don't worry," he said. "We can afford it. I decided to put it together myself to save money."

I nodded and wondered how my husband could build a twenty foot wooden structure, when the only tool he knew how to use was duct tape.

"Are you sure you can handle it?" I asked.

"Of course," he said. "All I need to do is follow the directions. Besides, I made a wooden shelf in high school shop class."

My husband spent the first day dragging all of the planks from the truck to the backyard. At dinnertime I found him outside studying the directions and mumbling to himself.

"I can do this with my eyes closed," he said. "By the way, do we have a butter knife?"

The next day he leveled the ground and moved the planks around the yard while our children watched anxiously.

"Are you almost finished, Daddy?" my daughter asked.

"It's coming right along." He kneeled down and bolted a few pieces of wood loosely together.

"Cool," my daughter said. "A see-saw."

As my husband progressed, I began to notice various household items disappearing.

"Have you seen the bread maker?" I asked.

"Yeah, I needed something sturdy to lean against the backside of the clubhouse while I bolted it down," he said.

"What about the electric broom?"

"It's propping up the rope ladder until I can fasten it on."

"The vacuum?"

"It's holding up the slide."

"Call me naive, but I don't think that's in the directions."

"Well, of course not," he said. "Whoever wrote them obviously didn't know what they were doing." He stepped over the bread maker and adjusted the broom handle. "Plus the kit is missing some parts, so I had to improvise."

"Are you almost finished?" my daughter asked.

"Of course," he said, "just as soon as I attach the blue thingy to the wood what-cha-ma-call-it with the metal bally wacker."

Two weeks later he called us out to the backyard to see the finished play structure.

"See?" he said. "I told you I knew what I was doing."

I was impressed. From a distance it looked great. But, as I got closer, I noticed the rope ladder dangled over the sandbox, the tire swing hung at a jaunty angle to the left, the slide was held in place by the garden hose, and the monkey bars were bolted to the outside wall of the clubhouse.

"Yippee!" my son cried. "A fire truck!"

I couldn't bring myself to say anything since my husband had worked so hard and our children obviously loved it -- Besides, I figured as soon as they were tired of it, I could plant wisteria in the sandbox, remove the slide and swings, attach a trellis onto the hanging rope and put a bench in the clubhouse -- and I'd have one heck of a gazebo.