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We need parents to teach us common sense. But what if your grandparents never taught your parents and you grew up in a chaotic household full of impractical people? Well, I thought, it’s time to stop the madness and teach my young son some common sense.

There’s no better common sense classroom than working on household projects. We were faced with three: fix the bike, repair the broken window and paint the door.

I swaggered into the bike store and bought a patch kit for the back tire and a nut to reattach the left pedal. Then we went home and carefully measured the broken window. I know a woman who divorced her husband, in part, because he brought home replacement panes that were too small.

We went to the paint store and bought the supplies to paint the new back door. Finally, we went to the hardware store to buy the glass and putty. I was deathly afraid of being divorced, so I had the cutter add an extra half-inch to my measurements.

The next job was moving the desk that was blocking the broken window. After we broke a leg off the desk, we leaned it against the wall. Next, we bashed out the old glass with a hammer–great fun. When I placed the pane, however, I found it fit right through the opening, with plenty of clearance on all sides. I turned this into a teaching moment by loudly telling my son we wouldn’t have broken the desk, if he had lifted a little higher.

I had to get away from the window before I hammered out all the panes. So, we worked on the bike. After only a few hours I had the pedal reattached. Unfortunately, the pedal popped off during the first test ride.

Well, at least I could fix the flat. Once it was patched and inflated, we couldn’t get the tire back on, because we couldn’t squeeze it past the rear brakes.

I later learned from an advanced common sense person that you don’t put the air in until the tire’s back on. At the time, though, I told my son rear brakes only keep you from flying over the handlebars and he would hardly notice they were gone.

We turned to painting. We spread a drop cloth and masked the glass. I thought we were in business until we started brushing and the paint was dripping and flying everywhere. I complained that we had forgotten to have a wet rag–the most important tool in painting.

The drippy paint drove me berserk, so I ended the common sense lessons for the day and took a nap. Besides, my son had already learned the greatest common sense tip of all: don’t let a guy who grew up in a chaotic household anywhere near tools or a paintbrush.