Crowbars for Kids

This is post 1 of a 30-day WriteStreak challenge.

When my brother and I were 6 & 7, Mom & Dad handed us adult-sized steel crowbars. Together the 4 of us gleefully demolished the interior of one end of our home. Plaster, dust, nails, and boards flew about Mom’s sewing room. Jimmy & I were super excited to see what was behind the walls of the room. By taking things apart we saw how things were put together. It was our “Hello world” of do-it-yourself. Remodeling 101.

Taking apart the house was just the beginning. Jimmy & I went on to deconstruct and reconstruct our go-cart engine, bicycles, clarinet, saxophone, remote control cars. Sometimes we did this to clean these things, but mostly out of curiosity. 20 years later we would help my parents build a new home. Yes, with our own hands, mostly. Full of grit, an incredible work ethic, & an I can-figure-out-anything, don’t you tell me what I can and cannot do attitude, he & my mom instilled a similar mindset in us. They trusted us to learn from experience & encouraged us to follow-our interests.

This not-so-gentle demolition memory elicits a tender appreciation. I am grateful that my parents enrolled us in hands-on learning. I connect this experience to the arc of my education in science and my career in software engineering. What made me such as valued software tester was knowing all the parts of the system inside-and-out so that I could figure out how to make it behave unexpectedly…teasing out the problems, making the invisible visible, in order to help the team make it even better. The house demolition project at age 6 was the 1st time I remember feeling the excitement of learning, oh so that is how this works, how this all fits together!

Here is a little ditty about deconstruction & reconstruction, Tear Down the House from the Avett Brothers

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