When my friend told me about Lowe’s Build and Grow program, I knew my kids would love it. Children receive a free wooden model to make with a parent. Luke loves to construct things and Leah loves making crafts, so this sounded like an activity they would both enjoy. I didn’t factor in my own ineptitude when I registered for this activity.
We arrived promptly at 10am. Shocking, I know, but my kids were super excited about the project so they actually put their shoes and coats on the first time I asked. We were directed to the employee break room where someone checked us in and gave us our free kits. We were pleasantly surprised to find that first time participants are also given Lowes aprons and goggles to keep as well. The kids got a kick out of looking the part of an employee.
We opened our kit and it seemed simple enough. We were about to build a castle. Four wooden walls. A wooden floor. Four paper turrets. A wooden drawbridge. And 26 nails. Let me emphasize that point one more time: 26 nails. 26. I had two little carpenters to help, so I’ll do the math for you. We had 52 nails total. 52. That is a lot of nails for little hands to hammer. That is a lot of nails for Mommy to guide as her fingers get pounded again and again with a tiny hammer. But none of that crossed my mind as we blissfully began our project.
Since I was only one adult helping two children, I had to alternate helping one child and then the other. While this is simple in theory, I kept getting confused and we nailed the latch to the door on backwards. No problem. We just took it off and started over. Then we put one of the walls on backwards. No problem. We just took it off and started over. Then we forgot to attach the door. No problem. We just took the walls and floor apart and started over.
After about 20 minutes, I noticed some people leaving with their finished products. I smugly thought they are probably the type of parents who don’t allow their children to use the hammer. I am so much more fun than they are. After about 30 minutes, I noticed a few more people leaving. I was beginning to get a bit frustrated and figured they probably only had one child to help. I was doing so much more work than they were. After an hour, I noticed that the room was pretty empty. Luckily, my friend was sitting right across from me. She was also getting frustrated with her daughter’s project. One of her pieces was on backwards and she was going to take the entire project apart. I was trying to think of another solution for her when my finger was pounded once again. It is hard to think of anything original or creative when your hand is being hit repeatedly with a hammer.
After an hour and fifteen minutes, my friend’s seven-year old son was completely done with his project. He had worked on it independently as his mother worked with his four-year old sister. Not once did he need to start over. He began helping Luke since it was evident that he was more skilled than I was.
After an hour and a half, our friends left. The four-year old’s project still needed to be fixed, but her mom was going to finish it at home. I was determined to finish even though my kids were losing interest fast.
“Jingle Bells, Batman smells,” sang Leah.
I was beyond frustrated at this point. “If I hear that song one more time, Christmas will NOT come next year. I mean it!”
The kids sensed that their mother was close to her breaking point. They were strangely quiet.
“Mom, did you notice that we are the last ones here?” Luke asked.
“That’s because we made the best castles. Other people rushed. We took our time,” I replied. It wasn’t a complete lie. I can’t verify the first two claims, but we did take our time.
I hammered the last nail in and held the castle up to admire it. The door fell off.
One hour and fifty-three minutes later, we were finally finished. On the way out, we stopped in Aisle 6. That is where I bought the wood glue to hold the whole stinking project together. The kids couldn’t wait to get home to play with the castles. As for me, I wanted to collapse on the couch. I only have two weeks to recover until the next Build and Grow.
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