As baby gifts began to pour in, I knew that I was looking forward to years of assembling gifts that my daughter would receive for birthdays, Christmas, etc. Well, my daughter isn’t here yet (5 more days?), and I’m tired of putting things together already.(UPDATE: Our little bundle of joy arrived on December 17th. Much, much, much more on this to come)
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a real handy guy. My tool collection has been described as “laughable”. Even though I lack anything but the most basic tools and skills, I know enough to be dangerous, and I can follow directions. I don’t enjoy putting things together at all, but up until today, I’ve assembled all sorts of furniture and toys without too much trouble. I still have all my limbs, and I think everything is functional and safe.
Enter the baby swing. The swing came highly recommended by numerous friends, and has been called indispensable as a parenting tool, especially by the fathers I know. I was excited when my co-workers pooled their funds and purchased it for me. I was looking forward to seeing if everything was true. Also, it was pretty expensive, and not something we had planned to buy on our own unless all else failed.
The swing came in roughly 8 million pieces, but the instruction booklet seemed easy enough to follow. After spreading out the various pieces on the floor, I began the assembly process. It was actually much simpler than it looked. There were approximately 10 screws in the entire unit, which was almost 4 feet tall and probably 3 feet wide when fully assembled. Everything seemed to go pretty smooth. All in all, it was about an hour long process, and everything was snug. I was all set, and looking forward to one of our last weekends of quiet relaxation before the baby comes. I was going to heat up some leftovers, watch some college hoops, maybe pop in a video game.
I set it on the kitchen floor, presenting it to my wife like a trophy animal I had just slain with my manly skills. Within two seconds, she pointed out a problem that I had somehow missed. One of the feet (there were four of them) was about a half inch off the floor. The legs couldn’t be stretched further apart to force the four feet on the floor, and construction was otherwise solid. There were no extra pieces, and there was no possible way to put the swing together other than the way I had. The swing rocked violently when it was turned on, and was unstable. My first reaction was to stand up for my constructions skills. I got defensive, refusing to admit that anything was wrong. After that option failed, I went to my second, normal fallback, which is to say: “Welp, it’s a piece of garbage, they are probably all like this, what is the worst that could happen? It’s just a little wobbly.” I could tell my wife wasn’t happy with the situation. She knows I hate putting things together, and could see that I was already sweaty and unhappy. She didn’t tell me that it needed to be taken apart. Well, the joke was on her, because I was standing strong. We were keeping this thing. I wasn’t going to spend another hour taking this apart and trying to shove everything back into the box. And there was NO WAY, I was setting foot in Toys R Us ten days before Christmas.
Taking it apart didn’t take quite as long as putting it together, but getting the pieces back in the box was bad. My daughter is very lucky that I’m not a single parent. If it wasn’t for her mom, she would probably be seriously injured by something I decided was “good enough”. At least I will have lots of practice, and practice makes perfect. I should probably get some more tools and put them in a cool box or something.
(UPDATE II: I exchanged the swing. The second one was fine. In fact, it is spectacular. I fully endorse it as a parenting tool.)