I have the HAZMAT (hazardous materials) unit on the phone as the smell of burning plastic fills my nostrils.
I run into the bathroom to see my youngest (10) pointing my wife’s hairdryer at me, the plastic cap of a hairspray can covering the end.
With his spiky hair and crazy smirk he looks like Robert De Niro’s, Travis Bickle, from Taxi Driver. And for a split second I see the future.
“Look dad, an air gun”. it whirs and wails briefly before dramatically cutting out
“You’ve just burnt out the motor” resignation and indignation fill my soul. Yet another broken item in our home.
“No no Dad– it works ….just give it some time”.
“No. Zak.” I fume. “Smell it. It’s burnt out the motor. That’s what happens when you cover the top and the air can’t get out. I’m sure we have told you that 15 times before!”
“No. It works, try it again.” He is adamant
“It’s broken” I say through gritted teeth, resisting the urge to ram it down his throat. I pull out the plug and slam the dryer on the bench.
As I stand in my bathroom shaking my head I reach down to pick up a feather from the floor.
A feather? Eh? What’s a feather doing in my bathroom.
It’s not a feather.
It WAS a comb.
That, was the burning plastic smell.
I pull out my phone. I add it to the list. A list I started a few years ago. A list of broken items that I have accumulated over a very long time. A bit like Liam Neeson’s skills…….
- Fridge door handle pulled off – (a friend’s house)
- Ripped trampoline net – (a friend’s house and at our house)
- Foot through an air vent
- Hole in the wall from a door handle after the door is slammed open
- Hole in door after a toy was thrown at it
- Glass on TV cabinetry unit broken – (a friend’s house)
- Broom through a window pane
- Multiple DVD’s ruined
- Footy ball through a window pane
- Vacuum cleaner hose attached to skin – burn out motor.
- Artwork drawn all over walls during kinder years.
- Opened door of car onto another door
- 2 x bed bases broken from too much jumping
- My office chair arm from spinning
- Dining room table cracked down the middle from sitting on it
- Stone chips along the kitchen bench from hitting the edges with pots and pans
- Untold lost balls over fences. Cricket, tennis, footy and soccer
- Remote control mini helicopter lost in bushes
- Remote control car remote antenna ripped off
- Dropped vase
- Broken kitchen sink tap
- Various bits of crockery
- My spectacles. The arms ripped off when they were babies
- iPad cases
- iPad screens
- Iphone screens
- Door hinges as doors open beyond their capacity
- New shoes coloured in “because it looks cool”
- Clothes ripped and torn
- My will to live
- My vocal chords
- My nerves
- Hair dryer
I know there are many, many things I have missed.
This list has made me think back to my own childhood. I am eerily reminded of myself.
I used to unscrew all manner of appliances to see what was inside. Confident in my ability to replace all parts in exactly the same order. Never happened.
Crashing my mum’s car into my dad’s car – as he was driving it (not my finest hour)
I can finally admit that I broke the toaster, multiple times, by touching a metal knife on the hot filament.. I can still see my dad trying to work out why the “bloody thing’s not working again”.
Losing balls, breaking things…..climbing things and falling from things.
Oh my god. This is like a therapy session.
My poor kids. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I have pushed all these memories to the back of my mind. I’m so busy telling them off and trying to teach them right from wrong that I have lost sight of the fact that they are young boys. That I was a young boy. And this is what young boys do. They test boundaries. They test limits. They are walking, talking wrecking balls. Usually not out of malice. But out of interest and intrigue. Of experimentation and fascination. They test the breaking capacity of everything and everyone.
While I can sympathise, maybe even empathise with their inability to toe the party line I can’t just “let it go”. I am on the other side now. Now it is my money that is being wasted on replacing or repairing broken items. What goes around comes around I suppose.
I remind myself just how similar I am to my kids as I walk back into my bathroom.
I see the hair dryer. I remember Zak’s words.
It can’t. Can it?
I plug it in. Turn it on.
The hot air blows out.
The little bugger. He’s right every bloody time.