I knew it wasn’t forever, few keepsakes that big ever make it long… especially around our house. Once or twice a year I’d see it, smile inside, my youngest would smile on the outside, my wife will smile later. It was a school project around the time our daughter was in fifth or sixth grade.
Even though my little one was young, she already knew she was dreading having to rely on my help. I could tell my wife felt sorry for her too… shucks, even I felt sorry for her. My wife, she, her sisters, and I, knew it was going to be a task. I don’t have the “that’s good enough” mentality. I admit it. Like most of the eyes reading, I’m an all or nothing type of person.
The mission: build a castle. Now being a builder left me little choice but to live up to my title. I mean how bad would it be for me to build something inferior to the doctor, the lawyer, or anybody for that matter! During the process of buying the materials and beginning to put the castle together… with tools I wouldn’t let a young adult touch, much less and elementary school kid… I remembered.
I remembered standing in front of the class beside my birdhouse, beaming with pride as if I’d built it myself. In truth I barely touched it, but I did watch a good part of the process as my dad built it, I helped with some finishing touches. It’s good for a kid to taste pride and victory I think, to be part of something successful even if only in title.
After the castle structure was built, glued in place by the little messy hands of my daughter, I directed the imitation slate grey tiles to be cut by my daughter and her classmate and glued in place at my direction. It’s hard to watch someone do things we know could be better, but a powerful way to learn. They glued the chains, windows, the people, the animals, and sprinkled sand over the freshly painted on glue for the interior of the grand castle.
“Dad! It was the best castle by far! I got an A+!” my daughter told me afterward.
I smiled, “You guys did a great job, babe,” I answered.
“Thanks, dad! she beamed.
I wonder what my life would look like if I put that much pride and energy into defending my title of “Christian”? How much more would be gained by all of my family members? I suppose the line between selfish pride and teaching my daughter proper work ethic is too fine a line for me to measure, but trying to is a just cause.
“It’s time to throw the castle out,” my wife said. I agreed. The little one did not. She put up a fight, but in the end stood over the trash can helping me tear it apart so as to fit in the trashcan.
“Doesn’t it make you feel bad to tear it apart, dad?” she asked.
“We have the memory of building it, babe. That’s always the best part,” I answered.
I had her take a picture of her castle above with the camera she got for Christmas… she knew I’d make sure our memory and lesson lived on in cyberspace. Not so different than the sweet memory of my dad and that birdhouse gently easing my mind.