Thursday, April 14, 2011

If I Had a Hammer

I was sorting through some old family photos recently, and I came across one that has a funny story attached to it. A story which I told once, way back when, in my old blog. And so I thought you all might get some enjoyment from me re-posting the story, and this time with the photo attached. . .


When he was little, our son 4M (now 20) was fascinated by 'working man stuff' - tools and machinery and suchlike. One summer, the city re-worked our sewers, which meant that the street was torn up all summer, and a whole menagerie of heavy equipment passed in front of our porch the whole time. 4M was in juvenile testosterone heaven.

Hammers, in particular, held a kind of 'Jungian archetypal' fascination for him. A hammer was like a symbol of power for him - "I hammer, therefore I am". Jen bought him a little tack-hammer, and he carried that hammer around with him like it was the Mighty Hammer of Thor.

Of course, this also took us into the realms of parental nonsense - "I gave you this hammer, but don't hammer anything." I eventually gave him a 2-foot chunk of scrap two-by-four and a little box of nails, so he could hammer away to his little heart's content.

One time I was working on some minor maintenance project, which required the use of my hammer. I brought 4M along with me, thinking that I could give him a few small hammering jobs where he could actually be helpful, and he was. But he also noticed that Dad's hammer was bigger than his, which made perfect sense in his three-year-old cosmology - Dad was bigger and more powerful than he was, so it only stood to reason that Dad would have a bigger hammer. And it was hard to miss the vaguely (or maybe not-so-vaguely) phallic uh, Freudian aspect of it.

That year for Christmas, we went to my parents' house for the holidays. One day while we were there, the wheels got to turning in 4M's head - if Grandpa is Dad's dad, then. . . He went to my dad and asked, "Grandpa, how big is your hammer?" My dad didn't understand the question, and asked him to repeat it.

"How big is your hammer, Grandpa?"

My dad gave a little chuckle, got up from where he was sitting, and went down into the basement, calling "I'll be right back" over his shoulder as he went. A minute later, he returned, carrying a 12-pound sledge-hammer.

4M's eyes bulged out of their sockets. "Oh, Grandpa - you've got a BIIIIIG hammer!"

"That's right," my dad told him. "And don't you forget it!" While we all rolled on the floor. . .


And please join me in wishing a very Happy 13th Birthday to 7M, thus restoring our family to its traditional allotment of three teenagers. . .


  1. Happy 13th, 7M! Here's hoping that some day your hammer turns out to be as big as Grandpa's.

  2. I will refrain from commenting on anyone's hammer. But I will pass along birthday wishes to 7M. Cute story!!

  3. Happy b-day 7M!

    Great story, ty!

  4. I was doing a little math yesterday, and our family is now in its fifth, and final, term of having three teenagers. Starting in the spring of 2001, and ending next summer, when 5M turns 20, we'll have had three teens for a total of nine years out of eleven. We've never had four, but we've come close (2F turned 20 a month before 5M turned 13, and 3M turned 20 6 weeks before 6F turned 13); and 6F turns 20 3 weeks before 8M turns 13, so we'll never have three again, once 5M turns 20. . . See how much fun math nerds are?

    7M gratefully accepts any and all birthday wishes, especially those accompanied by cash or checks.

    As to hammers, nature will certainly take its course. . .

  5. Happy belated birthday to your newest teenager! I'd possibly send cash, but like my non-existent hammer, my wallet is small!

  6. son went through a stage where he carried this big, red toolbox everywhere. I miss those days......

    Happy Birthday to the newest teen in your family!

  7. faDKoG - You don't have a hammer? (See now, here's where, if I were inclined to be all Double-E pervy, I'd say you could use mine. . . but I won't.)

    And 7M thanks you for the birthday wishes; hope yer wallet gets bigger soon. . .

    Bijoux - Those little man-cubs are such fun, aren't they?

  8. oh that's an adorable picture with a great story to accompany it. happy birthday 7m! hope it was a fantastic day for you! gr

  9. Thanks, Lime; it is a great story, and one I enjoy telling (and 4M doesn't even mind too much, when I do). So when I came across the photo. . .

    And 7M thanks you, too. . .

  10. It's not every family that can just whip their, um, hammers at will without shame. Kudos!

    Oh, wait, probably stole that comment from FB ... sorry

  11. Xavier - Yeah, well, you know, we're weird like that. . .

    (See, I'm so tempted to drop some bit about 'hammer and thongs', uh, tongs but I think it would be better if I don't. . .)