Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 496
“Welding with Children” is a comic, “feel-good” story about a welder with four unmarried daughters, each with a child, who tries to “weld” what he sees is broken about his four grandchildren. The story opens when the welder’s casino-bound wife leaves him to take care of all four grandchildren: Nu-Nu, Moonbeam, Tammynette, and Freddie. While he is trying to weld a bed rail for one of his daughters, the children get in the way and play with his welding tools. Bruton is ashamed of his trashy yard with a greasy auto engine hanging from a tree. When the children start screaming for an Icee, he drives them down to the Gumwood Pak-a-Sak. When he hears an older man say, “Here comes Bruton and his bastardmobile,” he is embarrassed. One of the men tells Bruton that maybe he can do better with this batch than he did with his own children.
On the way home, one of the children uses a curse word that makes Bruton pull over and tell him that children do not use language like that. When they get home, another child uses a four-letter word, and Bruton tells them to stop talking like white trash. He asks them if their mothers ever talk to them about God. This initiates a comic dialogue between Bruton and the children about the Bible, which makes him understand that the children know nothing about it. He gets out his old Bible stories book and begins telling them about the creation and Adam and Eve.
As the children ask questions about what Bruton reads, he realizes that the only knowledge they have about religion comes from films and television. He fantasizes about packing them up in his car and heading out to the Northwest to start all over again. However, he recognizes that you cannot drive away from yourself and that whatever bad was going to happen was partly his fault. He goes into town the next day and asks the man who called his car the bastardmobile how to fix things so his grandchildren do right. He is advised to take the children to Sunday school and church every Sunday and to clean up his yard. After Bruton talks to the Methodist preacher, he goes home and starts cleaning up the yard, calling a salvage company to take away four derelict cars, six engines, four washing machines, and more than two tons of scrap iron. “Time for a change,” he says.
When his oldest daughter brings Nu-Nu and Freddie over to spend the night, she tells him Nu-Nu said his first word, which was “Da-da.” Bruton tells Freddie he is going to put up a tire swing on the oak tree. When Nu-Nu says “Da-da,” Bruton thinks the child may never be able to face the fact that Da-da, whoever he was, is never coming back. When Freddie says even Nu-Nu can ride the tire swing, Bruton says, “He can fit the circle in the middle.”
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