For several reasons, I probably shouldn’t have children. The number one reason I shouldn’t have children is that I break things. And I don’t just randomly break a vase by dropping it or toss a baseball through a window, breaking the pane. No, I break things more that I’m trying to fix. Take yesterday for instance, and today. I spent yesterday, Mother’s Day, putting a water pump on the Volvo 740 wagon. (I know, ladies, I know, but I’m already taken. Who wouldn’t want a husband who spends his wife’s, the mother of his four children’s, special day under the hood of a car? She’s just lucky, I guess.) On the way to school and work this morning I stopped for gas and noticed engine coolant streaming out from underneath the car. This leak was worse than the leak I had purported to repair. I got home from work this evening and immediately got right under the hood. I felt around, checking this and that on the pump and then began tightening up the connections I’d made the day before. Just a little advice to you weekend mechanics out there: do not over-tighten the bolts on the water pump, because one of them might break. One of them broke. So tomorrow, after taking the kids to school and running some errands for work, I’ll be coming back home to take the water pump off, replacing the broken bolt, and putting the pump on … again.
I’m worried that in the course of raising these kids, while trying to make them better people and fixing whatever problems may arise with them, that I might break them. Accidentally, of course. I just can’t seem to help myself. Who knows what could happen? They could lose an arm or a digit just because I’m attempting to teach them to ride a bike or do long division. I’m unsafe. I am a menace to this family.
Another thing that really, really bothers me is not just that I made the problem worse today, but that I couldn’t just fix it yesterday. There are men out there, actual men, who can fix things. Or build things. I am not one of those men. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a man at all, sitting here in my slippers, writing on my blog page while a Volvo sits out front, useless, like a big, boxy, Swedish paperweight. My father-in-law repaired big troop transport helicopters in the Marines and can fix anything now. My grandfather built cotton pickers for International Harvester. I broke a bolt.
I have yet to break a kid, but it’s still early. I don’t even know where the manuals are that they came with. I’m assuming they’re under the couch with a handful of broken remotes. I’d use the flashlight to find them, but I broke it while changing the batteries the other day. I’d drive to the store to get a new flashlight but, well, the Volvo …