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By Rick Folbaum (our contributing papa)

We got our three year-old Dylan a Razor. No, not that kind of razor. That could be dangerous. The Razor I’m talking about is that skate board with handle bars you’ve probably seen around. Dylan’s is pink, looks very non-threatening and like a gazillion other things we’ve bought since we started having children, comes with printed instructions and oddly-shaped tools. 

Now, no one is ever going to confuse me with one of those dads who builds his kids’ cribs from scratch or climbs up a 50 foot oak tree in the front yard to hang one of those cool swings. But I think I’m doing OK in the assembling department. I’ve put together multiple strollers – one of them multiple times, after being informed that the stroller I’d just spent an hour building was not the “gray model with a black border” that we’d ordered, but in fact the “black model with a gray border” that we absolutely did not want. I’ve also dabbled in excersaucers, high chairs, activity tables, gliders, bouncy seats and indoor swings – both full and travel size.

Everything comes with instructions, though none tells you to hold off on the booze until you’re almost done putting the goddamn thing together, which as far as I’m concerned should be instruction numero uno. I’ve learned that one the hard way (please don’t ever ask me about the rocker I tried to assemble during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLI). So, I’m not above fessing up to not being the handiest guy around, but I’m certainly not an idiot. The Razor people, however, aren’t so sure. This is what it says under step one of their assembly instructions:

WARNING: Failure to to properly install and tighten the handlebar may cause the rider to lose control and fall. Assembly must be performed by an adult with mechanical experience. If you do not understand these instructions or the concept of “tighten securely” seek the assistance of a qualified mechanic.

They’re worried I might not “understand the concept” of screwing something on tightly? Are they kidding me? If that’s a concept I can’t quite wrap my head around, then I probably can’t even read their instructions, right? How dumb do they think we are? Also, what do they mean by “qualified mechanic?” Do they want me to drive my daughter’s toy up to the guy who fixes our car on 11th Avenue? I can just see Al’s weathered face and his grease-blackened finger nails, taking Dylan’s Razor from me and asking, “You want me to tighten what?” Do you think he’d give me one of those free car air fresheners he’s always handing out? We could dangle it from the center of the handlebar he tightens for me.

Look, I’m not breaking any news here when I say dads are not perfect. And I’m man enough to admit there are times when we’re possibly, make that sometimes, OK occasionally not even the brightest member of the household. But I, for one, think if toy manufacturers spent more time worrying about lead levels, and less time coming up with snarky, condescending instruction manuals, we’d all be better off. And if the assembly requires more than 10 steps, one of those steps towards the end should be “Take 45 minutes off and go make yourself a cocktail. You deserve it, buddy.”

WARNING: If you do not understand this blog post, or the concept of dads not appreciating being made to feel like imbeciles, seek the assistance of a trained professional.


5 Responses to manual labor

  • Dad says:

    I'm so happy I taught you not only how to "Screw things in tightly", but also how to enjoy a good coctail now and then.

  • Steven says:

    I can say, being Rick's little brother, that he can put some things together. As well, I can let you know that I have personally gone to NYC to assemble toys and such for him and his family.

    The instructions can be confusing, and sometimes condencending, so my best advice for all Dads, don't read the instructions, that's why there is a picture on the box. Most importantly, don't be concerned if you have extra pieces, they always give you a few extra screws.

    Lastly, it is recommended to enjoy a cocktail while you are assembling kid's toys. It is also a good idea to have a Gentile Father-in-Law too.

  • Evan says:

    Great article, Rick. I'd like to think I am handy around the house, but I think "usually able to put things together without too much cursing" is a better description. I certainly welcome the sage advice about the adult beverage, and will try to put it to use as I assemble the Phillies logoed toy chest that is headed to our house for our twins (courtesy of one of my brothers). So what if the kids are less than 3 months old and don't yet play with toys? It's never to early to learn to put them away, or to learn to love the Phillies!

  • Rick says:

    Go Phillies! The year Dylan was born, the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. In Summer's first year, the Phils win the NL East. If Kelc and I keep having kids, we're bound to get a championship somewhere!

  • Robin says:

    I loved this, Rick. It seems like this is the toy manufacturers way of saying, if your child falls and hurts themselves with this toy, you're the complete idiot who couldn't tighten the screws, so don't come & sue us! A screwdriver is a good idea, and I'm referring to the kind with a little orange juice.

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