How to Assemble a Tricycle

Buy your only great-grandbaby a tricycle for Christmas, one with streamers on the handles. Take it to your daughter's house on Christmas Eve after the girl is asleep to put it together. 

Lay out all of the pieces in the living room. There are a lot of parts. Scan the instructions. Get a drink, something with bourbon. 

Refuse your grandchildren’s offers of assistance. They are going out to a party and you don't want to interfere with that. Besides, you are perfectly capable of putting a tricycle together. 

As you start to work, you realize that the instructions are poorly written. There are too many parts. Take it apart so you can start over. Get another drink. 

There must be a page missing from these directions. How is anyone supposed to put this thing together? Step back, take a deep breath. This is for the baby. She goes with you to the market and you let her sit in your lap when you drive. You didn't even think you would live long enough to have a great-grandchild. You must get this done. 

 The author's great-grandfather, Charles W. Norris, poses calmly 56 years before his composure would be disrupted by a tricycle

The author's great-grandfather, Charles W. Norris, poses calmly 56 years before his composure would be disrupted by a tricycle

Cuss. Get another drink. Glare at the pieces strewn across the living room. No progress is being made. None. This is becoming a crisis. 

Your grandchildren return from the party and survey the scene. Accept their offer of help. That little girl won't care who put it together, she'll just know it's from her Papa. And that's enough.

Jacqueline Bryant Campbell