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.

Anyways.

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.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on June 25, 2009, in Family, Marriage, Memories, The Dear Hubby, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. newbeginnings09

    Karen,
    I have the same problem with my marriage. My dad was a diesel mechanic for 30 years and then went to college to become a network computer genius. He fixed EVERYTHING. My husband’s hammer collects dust. But they’e great in different ways, because my dad doesn’t DO emotion and my husband isn’t bad at it!

    • Hey, I never realized you have a new blog!!!!!! I’m so happy to hear you refer to your husband… You’re not separated!! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I will have to read up ASAP on the goings-on in your home.

      • Wait a sec, is that Robin?

      • newbeginnings09

        I’ll have to sit down and blog something for you then. LOL It’s been a ROCKY few months, and this whole hiding my blog thing is annoying but it’s amazing what the devil will do with any tool, in the form of HUMANS. I’m going to be nice and just say, my normal blog fell into the hands of evil and was used to a purpose I never intended, and so here’s the new one. Now I’m going to go blog on it! LOL

  2. glutenfree4goofs

    Oh man, I totally get you there. My dad/hubby are the same way! Wake up call eh? My husband is a thinker and a passionate conversationalist my dad is a quiet tinkerer. Dad has lost much of his fixing abilities due to early onset alzheimers so I’ve had to learn to trust my husband on more and more things that I would have called my dad for. Thankfully my childhood memories of my dad are filled with Joy and a feeling of safety though he wasn’t available as much as Matt is (for the kids and I) because of the constant projects.
    I love the essay idea! My Ethan is a video game junkie and only 5yo. Of course we don’t let him, it’s just one of the main things on his mind no matter what we do. We have a token system for chores/especially helpful behavior and reward with video game time or motorcycle gas. Now we have made video game days ONLY MWF so he can’t even ask the other days of the week. What else to do besides yank the thing out of the wall and hope he doesn’t remember how much he likes them when he is 12! THAT won’t WORK! Sigh. Sorry, you got me going.

  3. Your 5 year old rides motorcycles????

  4. I tried to take a camera apart enough to re-align the cam that sends the zoom lens out. About 150 tiny little screws and a few cracks and tears later it was a goner. Those things clearly aren’t made to be fixed.

    If you can find a used laptop on Craig’s List for $150, I’d bet you could find a working point-and-shoot digital camera for under $40.

    • Ack! 150 tiny screws? I can see about five on the outside of my camera. I had been thinking, “Five screws aren’t so very much!” But, maybe that portends to a similar situation inside, as yours. Hm. And, you’re surely right about finding a used camera…

  5. glutenfree4goofs

    Tina-Yeah talk about nuts huh? We live in the country and he and his 7yo brother have been riding two wheelers for a year and a half so this spring we got the motorcycle combined b-day/christmas for both. We have major rules though. Only 1st gear, only with dad or uncle Jason, “not in the rain, not with a mouse”…. 🙂 It’s not as bad as it sounds. When you live out you are likely to run into that at a neighbors and we wanted to teach it safely before they ended up getting hurt at a neighbors! P.S. I shouldn’t say he is a junkie (reminds me of that kid on Willy Wonka) he just really likes Mario Kart. We don’t even have a modern game system.

    • My hubby grew up in a similar rural environment (rural desert, though), and had his own little 80cc dirt bike at age 8. But now, looking at our kids… that’s hard to imagine! Maybe it’s the constantly-outdoors… umm… nature of being in rural areas that lends itself to kids maturing more quickly in that area??? IDK. My mom also drove a big tractor at age 10, and I can’t imagine teaching even my 12yo how to drive one.

  6. Wow! I can’t even get my 5 year old to ride her bike without training wheels!

  7. glutenfree4goofs

    My BFF has girls and 5, 4 and 3, none of them are riding bikes without training wheels. Every kid is SO different. My 7yo didn’t learn until his dare devil brother learned! Her girls do get on and lope around the yard on horses though! All but the 3yo. It is definately a different life out here. 🙂 The tractor thing too, it’s kind of a necessity! I look at kids who walk to school alone and thing “I’d never let my kid- WAIT, I was one of those kids!” Swim in the ocean? I won’t let my kids out unless there are at least two adults “spotting” them on the open water side! YIKES! We have lakes and rivers not tidal waves! Scarry! Lol

  8. I could’ve written this post myself! My dad is a builder & fixer. He makes everything and built the house I grew up in. My husband, hmm, does not do any of that. If something is broken he might hand me tools while I fix it. I’ve actually had to pay a mechanic to work on my car, which was unheard of when I lived closer to home. It pains me to spend that money but I only have basic skills and DH has none.

    My parents made me write a report about Hamsters to prove that I was ready to take care of one. He was the best pet ever, he was earned, and I really did know how to take care of him when I finally got the go-ahead.

    As for the electronics, even some of the tools I have for my therapy sessions are definitely made so you can’t get into them. They’d rather things break so you can buy new ones. I don’t like that plan. I still take them to my dad when I go visit. 🙂

    • Hahaha! I can’t help but giggling over this. Apparently, it’s a wider problem than I realized!!

      My hubby actually does know how to fix cars, but with two jobs already, time becomes a major factor…

      I agree with your last statement — it seems like things are purposefully made poorly so that we will have to eventually replace them. I’ve blogged about that before, actually. (A long time ago.) Makes me feel poignantly for the “good old days,” but then, people have been sighing for that for eons… 🙂

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