Holding the flashlight

By Snow

Last time, I mentioned that living in the same home has allowed me to spend more time with my stepson, who is a young adult. One of the projects we’ve been working on together is replacing light fixtures in various rooms with ceiling fans. While I had done some simpler projects about 15 years ago, he did not have much experience working with electricity. I handled the electrical aspects, and he helped by holding things, handing me tools while I was on the ladder, shining the flashlight, etc.

Credit: Snow

The process has been painful at times – due to a combination of my inexperience, the home builder’s ineptitude, and the fans’ sometimes questionable quality.

For various reasons, the last ceiling fan we came to was the one for his room. He asked if he could take the lead on installing this one. I must admit, I felt a mixture of both pride and trepidation when he asked this.

Within myself, I poked at my fear. It’s not like I would let him hook the fan up without turning off the circuit breaker first or by connecting the wrong wires to one another. “Of course you can!” I said. I also said a popcorn prayer in my mind that it would go well.

Later that day, he began installing the fan, while I took the secondary role. When it came time to turn off the circuit breaker, I told him to come to the garage with me so I could show him which one. “You can just do it,” he said.

“Nope, you need to do this yourself.” So we went downstairs to the garage, and he turned off the circuit breaker for his room.

At one point, about midway through, I noted how he was doing a good job installing the fan by himself, while I was pretty much just handing him things. “Yes, you’re like the little kid who holds the flashlight for his father,” he joked. I had, in fact, really been that kid whenever I helped my dad.

Until I married JC, I had never been a father. So it is a road I am navigating with much prayer. In working on projects with my stepson in particular, I realize that I am distilling information that I learned from my own father as well as other father figures I have known over the years.

My dad had various issues, as we all do to varying extents, but I try to choose from the best of him – because he did have his fatherly moments.

One of the aspects that I wish had been different with Dad, however, is that he never let me move beyond the “helper” role. I don’t learn nearly as well by watching someone do something as I do by actually doing it myself. While I have good memories of watching Dad work on stuff around the house, outside in the yard, or for the car, it has been a struggle at times to do those kinds of things on my own in the decades since his death.

This is one of the reasons I was glad my stepson wanted to lead the way on his fan. The installation itself went very smoothly. Part of that was because we were able to apply lessons learned from the previous fans and part of it was because this fan was better crafted and not as persnickety going up. Thank You, Jesus.

Near the end, though, there was a tricky part that caused him to struggle, so he asked me to double check it. “Hey, I’m just the little kid who holds the flashlight,” I reminded him before confirming he had indeed properly installed the piece.

Once we were done, he was very happy and proud of his accomplishment. He even showed off his fan and its features to his mom when I wasn’t around. He mentioned to me regretfully that, since this was the last fan, he would forget what he learned by the time he had to do one again years down the road.

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” I told him. “There’s still a few light fixtures that you can swap out with new ones around here.” His face fell. “And I’m sure some of the neighbors could use your help, too,” I continued joking. He scampered off before I could add more to his imaginary task list.

The whole experience represented multiple answered prayers. It was also just fun to watch someone I love apply things I have taught him. As I said, thank You, Jesus. I am so grateful.

“Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants.”
Deuteronomy 32:2 NLT

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