“What broke today?” Those were the first words Daddy said daily as he arrived home from work. Yes, something broke every day. It was at least a something. Sometimes it was multiple somethings.
Yes, there were the typical household issues such as a broken vacuum, dish washer, dryer, pedal on the stationary bike, leg of the mini trampoline, tub drain, bathroom door lock, sliding closet doors off the track, a bowl, a glass, a jar of jelly, the garbage disposal and the car battery. Everyday usage wears things out. BUT if you have children, and particularly active boys, then you have additional breakage.
They weren’t necessarily being malicious or abusive. They were just very busy, childishly careless and naïve. There were times that even I, with a clear memory of my own childhood filled with accidents and carelessness, was exasperated.
March 30th. My sons were 9 months, 2.8 and 5.8 years old. They were all three playing together. Their play was happy and cooperative and creative. The two older boys were giving rides to their littlest brother. He was seated in an upside down step-bench. They pushed the bench along the inside circle of the house – through the living room, down the hall, through the little bedroom, across the kitchen, around the corner of the dining room and back to the start. (It was so adorable I even took a photo.) All of the flooring was not the same and so some of the pushing was easier than in other areas. What they didn’t notice was that a slightly too-tall screw in a threshold between the bedroom and kitchen was gouging the bottom of the seat (the top of the bench) with every pass around the circle. Damage was done that was not intended.
This was the same day that the # 2 son, who was 2.8 years old, had also managed to break the leg off a dining room chair and bend the chandelier when he swung from it like a monkey. He also pulled up little baby plants in a starter garden box in the window. I needed three sets of eyes and I didn’t have them. The poor boy had to stand for a few meals while his father repaired his chair.
Toys were broken every day as the boys played with them. I could manage the simple gluing of parts, if that was a sufficient fix, but gluing plastic did not always work. Daddy handled the bigger repairs, particularly with anything electrical or electronic. But the boys were watching and learning.
I will never understand why my mom thought it was a good idea to give each of the children a real-glass snow globe. They were cute and each one was unique. But, Glass. Of course, each one eventually became a wet mess of glass and glitter on the floor. Some lasted longer than others.
The most frequent repairs were to G.I. Joe figures. The boys eventually learned to take the screw out from the man’s back to expose the inner rubber band which held the legs and arms in place. They knew exactly what size rubber band was needed to replace the broken one.
As they got older, and their toys became more expensive, they were more responsible and careful with them, but also more adept at the repairs. They had laser guns which they repeatedly rebuilt.
Many lessons could be learned from broken stuff.
- When it is broken I can’t play with it. I have to be patient while it is being repaired.
- How tools are used, where to find them, and to put them back in their place.
- Tools can be dangerous, even glue. Respect them.
- If it is too broken to repair and I have to replace it, then I can’t spend my money on something else.
- Try to fix it. It is already broken. Nothing can be further lost.
- Through making repairs one learns how things work.
- Stuff can last longer than expected.
- I will respect others’ stuff more if I am responsible for replacing what I break.
My three sons now have their own homes and their own children to keep them busy repairing stuff.