Well, I guess he can’t fix everything
I had a rocky relationship with my Dad when I was growing up, but one very good thing to be said for him was that the man could fix/make/build anything. Cars, household construction and remodeling projects, large and small electronics, appliances, anything. He even built a “fort”, which was a playhouse accessible by a trapdoor, with its floor 9 feet in the air, swings and rings and a rope ladder underneath. It rocked. Not literally. Its posts were made of telephone poles. It was awesome.
One of the difficulties I had adjusting to marriage with my husband was the blank look he’d return when I told him something was broken. I was expecting him to hop right on it with his Super Fix-It Skills, and he was like, “What do you want me to do about that??” We replaced with new, things I knew my Dad could fix, if only he were close by. We called in repairmen, which I had never seen, my entire childhood. Our cars went in the shop when broken down.
My husband is extremely clever, and, given the time, could likely build a house from dirt to completion (although he says that he’d need help with the electric and plumbing). But, he’s just not much of a fixer. Or maintainer. Plus, my husband would rather spend his lone weekend day (Saturday) with his family, than being hyper-industrious like my Dad is/was on Saturdays. I do very much appreciate that my husband actually likes our children and me.
My 12yo son Ethan has been saving for a couple of years, and now has close to $200. He decided a while back that he wanted a laptop, but despaired over how much new ones — even the cheap ones — are. So, yesterday, I hopped onto Craigslist to poke around. I found broken laptops (usually some problem with a virus, or needing a new $80 battery) from $40, and refurbished ones for $80-150. $100 still seems very steep to Ethan, to spend on something with no guarantee on it. So, I thought, “I’ll call my Dad!”
My thought process was that we could either buy a cheap one and ask him to fix it, or buy one that was closer to $150 and still have him take a look at it to make sure it was in good running condition. Plus, I have a digital camera that won’t power up, and I thought he could fix that, too.
He came just short of refusing to even look at the camera, saying that he didn’t have the right tools, and the way electronics are made nowadays, you almost have to break them just to get them open. I told him that, as the camera is as good as gone as it is, I wouldn’t be upset if he ended up pushing it over the edge.
He semi-agreed to the laptop idea, and then the conversation got interrupted.
Last night, at dinner, my husband pretty much nixed the idea of Ethan getting a laptop. It’s his concern that Ethan will just load a bunch of games onto it, and want to tuck himself away in his bedroom for hours on end, playing on it, something that neither he (Martin) nor I want. So, he told Ethan to write an essay today on why he wants a laptop, and what he would do with it, and that he may reconsider, depending on the substance of the essay.
Then, my Dad called this morning to suggest something different. He said that “the company” (which he runs as chief technology officer — it’s funded by investors, fueled by my Dad’s ideas, operations are run by someone else, as that is not my Dad’s strength) has a couple of laptops that he could sell to us. I hadn’t thought about that. The less expensive one he’d sell for $120. Both Martin and I feel better about buying a used laptop from my Dad, rather than some dude off of Craigslist. It’s a nice piece of equipment, too, newer, and with a wider viewing screen than Martin’s laptop, and it has Windows XP on it.
The whole thing is still pending the outcome of Ethan’s essay, though.
My Dad did say, somewhat vaguely, “You may as well ship your camera over here, and maybe I could take a look at it,” which I will certainly do. I apparently still have more faith in his ability to fix stuff than he does.
Still, though. I feel like it may be a minor turning point in my marriage. I can’t help thinking, “My Dad could fix that” to a billion things in partial (or full) disrepair around here. But, this whole episode, of my Dad saying, “Hm. I don’t think I can fix that” is going to send that whole process into doubt, likely for the better, if that makes sense.