The high-pitched shrill of small orbital sanders pierces the morning. We tried to fit the soft plastic plugs into Reese’s ears but the adult size doesn’t work well for seven-year-olds. I invited him to help me out with this project of prepping the door trim for the guest bath upstairs. He and my son, Dan, stand in the garage, watching as I start the sanding.
I begin with 100 grit on the old DeWalt sander, “Be sure to go slow. Keep the sander flat like this and run with the grain but go slow.” He watches, more patiently than most kids his age. I finish, move the board to the lower stands for him and give him the Craftsman sander with the 120 grit. I watch him for a while, then turn to the next piece and start with the 100 grit on it.
Dan keeps an eye on his son and coaches, “Here, Reese, use both hands like Papa Doc. See, like this.”
I smile to myself, continue working on the six-foot-long piece. Dan goes to check on Ann Marie, his eighteen-month-old with a definite tendency to extend her boundaries. Reese works his way along the board, keeping the sander flat and moving slowly. When he has finished the flat surface, I’ll do the edges.
At least, that’s the plan. But when I look over a couple of minutes later, he has already tilted the piece up on its side and is moving the sander slowly along the edge. I am impressed by his initiative and by his ability. A lot of men have trouble steadying the piece for edge work. Not only is this kid keeping the piece steady, he’s also keeping the sander flat as he works along the three-quarter-inch surface. “Has to be genetics,” I joke to myself.
Whatever it is, it is joy to me, sharing this talent and interest of my father and my grandfather. Teaching my grandson and seeing him perform the work of my hands. I believe that in this old garage, with pine dust lifting and swirling around us, I touch on the delight that our Father takes in seeing us in our most earnest imitations of Him.