Ben was eleven when he earned his black belt in Tae Kwan Do. I think he was ten and still a red belt when we had a friend come over to help us with handyman tasks. (Actually, we had won four hours of his very talented time in a Christmas gift exchange. Is that great or what?)
Our friend “Don” is a whiz with tools and we were thrilled with our prize. Don fixed the kitchen light, repaired a broken drawer, and came into the living room to remove the tambour doors from our entertainment unit.
We have a five-piece entertainment unit, a very nice set from my days of working for a furniture chain. The center unit isn’t wide enough for large TVs, and those doors took another inch of width. Back in those days, flatscreen TVs were only for the wealthy. But I could afford a really nice 32” CRT TV to replace our dead one. The problem was that this new Sony would fit only if we removed the tambour doors on the unit. We never used those sliding doors anyway, so that was okay with us. But how to get them out?
The way the unit was built, the only way to remove those doors would be to break them and pull them out of the track groove in which they sat. Don’s plan was to use his jigsaw to cut them in half horizontally and lift them out.
We were discussing the game plan when Ben wandered in to listen. He had an idea.
“Mom Mom Mom! You want to break the doors, right?”
“You don’t care what happens to the doors, right?”
“I could kick the doors and break them.”
“Yeah!” Ben demonstrated by turning sideways and placing his heel against the middle of the tambour door. “See? One or two kicks and it will give way.”
“Wait a minute. There are glass doors above this space and flanking on both sides. Those doors could shatter if you don’t hit it just right.”
Ben spent a few minutes explaining how, with his well-placed foot, this would not happen. Don was just about speechless.
“You’re actually considering this?” he asked incredulously.
“If he does it just right, he could do it without breaking the glass.”
“You’ve got more guts than I have.”
I asked Ben to demonstrate his placement once again. I finally agreed, but he was to wear something to protect his foot from splintered wood.
He returned with a snow boot on his right foot. We stood back while Ben took his stance, practiced once very slowly, and then POW POW CHOP CHOP CHOP—two kicks and three punches with his fists—and those doors were sufficiently broken to pry out of their tracks with ease. The unit never moved and the glass doors didn't even rattle.
Don cleaned up the doors while shaking his head. Ben grinned and went back to playing computer games.
That night I told Sheba and her friends how the new TV came to be in its rightful place.
“I’d put Ben up against any piece of furniture in the house. I feel quite safe.”
“I dunno. I’ve got a sofa I think can take him,” quipped a teenager.
I related this tale to a number of my friends over the next week. One mom put it in a way I like to remember.
“You let him kick in your entertainment center? YOU are the World’s. Best. Mom.”