No, We Can't, Bob & Barack

Bob the BuilderIf you’re the parent of a young child who’s a fan of Bob the Builder, like I am, you may have noticed that the animated handyman shares a slogan with President-elect Barack Obama: “Can we do it? Yes, we can!” While I admire Bob’s and Obama’s positive attitude, when it comes to home improvement tasks around here, our sad refrain is: “No, we can’t.”

See, we have a toddler whose favorite pastimes are emptying out the junk drawer and managing to find all the sharp and/or potentially dangerous implements in the house. He’s not one to quietly amuse himself while we, say, caulk the leaky skylights or strip wallpaper. Or if he does, he’s amusing himself by finger-painting the upholstery with diaper rash cream. That means one of us always has to be on kid duty while the other is tackling our lengthy to-do list.

Since I am on kid duty pretty much full-time during the week, you can understand why I might not be super-enthusiastic about taking over on Saturdays and Sundays, too. Yet even when I’m not 6 mos. pregnant, I’m not clamoring to get my hands on the caulking gun. I do my share of household tasks, but I’m no Babe the Builder. What this usually means is that Dad takes over with Miles on the weekends, nothing gets done around the house, and I stress out about it.

But, really, what are our options? We don’t live close enough to our families to drop him off at Grandma and Grandpa’s for the day. The kid is frustratingly incompetent with a paint roller. I guess we could hire a sitter to watch him while we paint or rake, but I’d rather spend that money on a night out.

So we’re forced to take a tag-team approach to home improvement tasks. I watch Miles while C. runs to Home Depot. Then he takes Miles to the gym while I shop for shelves. Or we’ll all go together to Target, which more often than not is a huge time- and money-waster for everyone involved. We go in for a rug and we leave with more Lightning McQueen paraphernalia.

But we’ve got another baby on the way, and the flowered wallpaper in the guest room is not going to strip itself. So I took matters into my own hands. For 4 consecutive days during naptime, I peeled and steamed and stripped and scraped wallpaper myself. I was proud of what I accomplished during those 90-120 minute blocks. And on school mornings, I even made 3 separate trips to the paint store to find just the right shade of light blue. (Sherwin Williams’ no-VOC Harmony paint in Rhythmic Blue, if you care.)

Then on the weekend, C. spackled and sanded but did not get to the actual painting since I was so fed-up with potty training that I fled the house for all of Sat. and Sun. afternoon. The paint cans and rollers are just sitting there unopened, mocking us. In the yard, the fence is slowly falling apart, slat by slat. Obama painting housesThe skylights are still leaking. The dining room still needs a new coat of paint. The shelves we bought over a year ago still need to be put up.

Bob? Barack? If you’ve got a minute, we could use your can-do attitude over here -- or at least an extra pair of hands.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: For home décor inspiration, check out what people with more time and talent have done at Rate My Space. You can search by baby nurseries and boys’ or girls’ rooms, among other things.


Missives From Suburbia said...

Ohhhh... I am there with you in spirit, but physically here at my house, peeling wallpaper and picking paint while my two-year-old naps, climbs, and generally makes things take 15 times as long as they should. Baby #2 is due in four weeks.

Jen said...

Ah, yes- as a mother of mother of 3 girls (I feel your pain re: your just the socks entry)- the paint can has been mocking me for two years! The torn window screen, and worn carpet begging for attention have had their rights usurped yet again due to the unfortunate encounter with stomach flu...the slip covers got priority. The walls' time will come. As for tag teaming...our special "quality family time" has turned into a group trip to Costco...our family, too, lives too far away to be much help. I usually have to do something drastic, like have a baby, to get me folks to come! Anyway, enjoyed reading your blog. Found it via Baltimore's Child! Good luck! To see us: http://ourmdfamily.blogspot.com

ummmhello said...

Ugh! We have always had the same problem with home omprovement vs. child rearing! We *did* put the tyke to work a few times and while it was good for laughs, it meant much more work to clean up. May I suggest sending the little one to a trade school? :) You know, Painting 101, Drywall for Beginners.... :)

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