This story is dedicated to a poor little bird that was in the wrong tree at the wrong time.

I am so sorry.

It was a simple dream. I wanted to look out my back window and watch my children play peacefully on a swing set. It was a Mayberry moment. What was I thinking?

We saw the “perfect” set at Costco. The sign said, “Assembly required.” How hard could it be? My husband, Bruce, and I renovated an old craftsman house. Turns out our entire house renovation was easier than assembling just one toggle bolt in the massive pile of lumber that would become our swing set.

How were we to know that the only assembly that was not required was milling our own wood and forging our own nails? How could we know the instruction manual would resemble a copy of War and Peace? Or that our marriage would be challenged and our children stressed beyond belief.

My husband and I thought we were up for the challenge. We brought the structure home from Costco piece by piece. It looked like enough lumber to build a small skyscraper in the back of our minivan.

After the trauma of delivery, we started the daunting task of step one, page one of the directions. The first page of the manual instructed us to make sure we received all the pieces. I opened the box of bolts. There were close to 60 different types of screws that could only be differentiated with a millimeter ruler.

Before we continued, we thought it might be dangerous for our young children to be around during assembly – you know hazardous power tools, falling debris and/or violent verbal exchanges between usually loving parents. We felt like Mommy and Daddy of the year as we left our crying children in the arms of a well-meaning neighbor who offered to watch them at our house while we assembled the monster. Our children’s sad eyes looked out our picture window at us.

Did they not know we were doing it all for them? We were thinking of their futures.

Now, this is where the violence begins. As we started page two of the directions, I swung a board into a vertical position. I heard a thud. To my horror a bird was dead at my feet. I had hit this innocent bird hidden in a tree with a 4-by-8-foot board. As I looked at my innocent victim, I remembered from my childhood standing at bat hoping I could hit the ball. Hearing my teammates call me an easy out. Watching the outfielders come infield as I approached the bat. Why now such dead-on accuracy? I would surely have to resign from the Audubon Society for my actions.

After 17 days of heroic attempts at constructing the swing set, keeping all young children and small birds away from our work space, we finally completed it. When the children were presented with their swing set, they hugged and kissed us and thanked us for making all their dreams come true.

Just kidding. As I showed our kids the swing set, I saw their attention diverted to a brown, cardboard box of leftover bolts. I glanced at my exhausted husband. He could barely keep his eyes open as he propped himself against a tree. He looked my way and tried to lift the corners of his mouth to give a supportive smile. The shiny silver bolts glimmered as my children played peacefully on the grass, in the backdrop of our fabulous new swing set.

Rochelle Goldin is a freelance writer and mother in Needham.

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