This summer, more than any other I can remember, my children have been off in different directions, pursuing their own interests. I have one who can drive, so he will frequently take the car and go off with his friends.

My daughter trained for, traveled to, and competed in a national competition in her chosen sport. She returned home only to sequester herself in her bedroom so she can complete her many hours of summer reading and projects for the courses she will be taking in the fall.

The youngest has spent the better part of the summer in the woods. He has been to camp; he has been camping; he has hiked more than one mountain; and he went off on a multi-day canoe trip. In between his adventures, he has been pursuing his other interests by finding ways to “tinker” and improve one aspect of our house or another.

When I returned from several days away with my daughter, I found a fifth bike in my shed, and all of the bikes leaning against each other. Since my shed provides tight quarters for four bikes and the small amount of junk that usually resides there, the fifth bike had to be crammed in.

“These bikes shouldn’t be leaning against each other like they are,” I told W. “The gears are going to get bent.”

“They’re not leaning on each other,” W replied as he walked to the door of the shed and peered in. “Oh. Oops. They must’ve fallen over.”

“Right. That would be my point.” I walked back up to the house, but the seed had been planted, and a plan was beginning to develop.

Two days later, I had several ten-foot lengths of PVC pipe, joints, and various hardware on my living room floor. Acquiring the materials was the first step of the project. But then the project leader left the house for a meeting to prepare for his next journey into the woods.

C, who had been out with a friend for the day, returned home around dinner time. He walked in the door and started to tell me about his day, and about his thoughts on the headaches he’d been having lately. He was walking into the bathroom while he was telling me this.

“This morning, I didn’t sleep late at all. I really don’t think that the headaches are from sleeping too—” His monologue stopped abruptly. He had apparently spied the “supplies” scattered on the floor of the living room. “Oh no,” he paused for effect. “What’s the new project?”

I burst out laughing. It seems there is always a project. Always “supplies” somewhere in the house. The supplies for the bigger projects end up in the living room for a time. The last time we had PVC pipe in the living room, there was a model “black hole” in the works for a school project.

But this time, the project was for the family. Together, W and I sketched and planned; he measured the space, considered distances, and manipulated the plans to get them to work. He tried the “prototype,” and revised his design. He cut the pipe into appropriate lengths, and connected them all together. And now, we have a bike rack in our shed that keeps the bikes upright.

Isn’t it amazing what summer boredom can do?

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