Friday 28 September 2012

Rage Against the Washing Machine

I love this picture.  A little more than a year ago I saw this on Pinterest and I immediately thought of my husband who is not only a huge Rage Against the Machine fan, but who was at that time struggling with our washer, trying to get it to work.

We got this washer sometime when Frack was a small infant and the old machine that came with the house died on us.  There was no bringing it back to life.  And as an infant's capacity for generating loads of laundry is nothing short of legendary, this was a state of affairs that could not be allowed to continue.

We had to break down and buy a new washing machine.

I was so excited to get a new front-loading, high efficiency washer.  It would save us money on our utility bills.  It could do larger loads of laundry.  It didn't have that weird stick agitator thing in the middle that would sometimes catch hold of and then stretch out a sleeve or neck-hole of a favourite shirt (usually mine).  It had a neat feature that allowed us to delay the start of the cycle so you could put a load in the night before and not have to worry about mildew getting a chance to set in.  I loved my new toy!

I don't know how old our old machine was.  It looked very much like the one I used as a teenager in my parents' house so it was probably at least twenty years old.  My point is that it had many years of service under its fanbelt before it died.

Our fancy, brand spanking new machine lasted about two years and then got brain damage.  Because all these fancy new washing machines have to have computer brains in order to know whether you want it to wash the clothes now or if you would like them to be washed 2 or 4 or 6 hours later.  So at first, in my mind it must be the stupid cheap computer they installed in our lovely new machine that was ruining everything.  Stupid computers!  If this was an old-fashioned thingy with a mangle attached for squeezing out the excess water it would have lasted forever, no doubt!

But my husband figured out how to bypass the computer system by manually hotwiring the machine (not really, but this comes closest to describing it).  At first this was great because he was the only one who knew how to do it and so he had to do all the laundry.  But then things got bad because he totally sucked at keeping up with the volume of laundry that a family of four, one of whom was a toddler, generates.  So I had to make him teach me how to do it.

And I did fine with this method for about three months and then the machine up and died and this time we couldn't blame its brain.

I swore a lot.  This is ridiculous!  What the hell kind of brand new washing machine dies after only two years of use?  Is this the evil manufacturer's way of driving up consumption?  Now everybody just has to buy a new washer every two years?  Screw you capitalist pigs!

My husband is Hank Hill in the way he takes pride in his ability to fix anything and he can't stand to stoop to the level of having to call the repair guy.  He got down to the business of systematically dismantling the entire machine to its most fundamental parts and found that the reason why it stopped working was because it had granola bar wrappers, legos and Kinder surprise parts jamming up the works.


This is why we can't have nice things.

Once my husband cleaned out the machine, he put it all back together and it was working fine.

So, I tried to prevent this from happening again.  I gave the kids a stern talking to.  I now have to personally unwrap their granola bars and put them in the garbage so they don't end up in pockets.  At first I even tried checking their pockets when I did the laundry, only when I did my hand emerged with some kind of sticky pink goo that could have been Chapstick or gum or candy.  Judging from the sticky, fruit-scented, waterproof residue it left I imagine it was an unholy combination of all three.  This only reaffirmed my reasons for refusing to do this in the past.  It didn't seem necessary anyway because even though we never got back that cool time-delay feature, it washed our clothes just as well as before.

Until last month.

This time there were no granola bar wrappers.  This time it was the usual small toy bits...and several pounds of sand.


Thursday 6 September 2012

It's My Life and I'll Bitch If I Want To!

"You're such a bitch!  I hate you!"

These were my son's parting words to me as I saw him off to school this morning.  I'm sure some of you have heard similar words from your own kids.  Maybe you had to ground them for something.  Maybe you had to tell them that they can't go to that birthday party after all.  Me?  I made my son put on a shirt.  That he picked out for himself.  Yup.  That's how we roll in the Rotten household.

It's not his fault really.  He's probably uber-tired because his little brother kept him up half the night, crying because even after reading a story and getting a song and a glass of water and taking too long to brush his teeth we selfishly sent him to bed.  And then we kept sending him back there for the next two hours as he kept coming back downstairs.  Because we're horrible people.

No doubt about it.  Parenting is hard.  I know this isn't news to anyone who's a parent.  But do you know what is news to me?  What I just found out?  Apparently we're not allowed to complain.  We have no right to bitch.  Because we should have thought about all those things before we became parents.

Lately, I've been coming across this sentiment quite frequently.  I've seen it in blog posts and comments.  I've heard it from non-parents and from Moms at the park.

"She should have thought of that before she had children."

Really?  Allow me to enlighten you for just a moment about forethought and children.

Sometimes, some people don't really want children or are not ready for children yet.  Sometimes when people are actively trying to prevent pregnancy, they get pregnant anyway.  Sometimes those people say to themselves "Fuck it." and go with it and have that baby because, why not?  It wasn't part of their plans but they're rolling with it.  And that doesn't mean they don't love or deserve their kids.  It just means that maybe there wasn't a hell of a lot of thought put into it beforehand.

Sometimes, people have children and then find out that they are mentally ill after the fact.  Sometimes having children is what makes you realize that maybe you suffer from anxiety, depression or bi-polar disorder.  And sometimes people are mentally healthy but their children are not.  Sometimes people with mental health issues also have children with mental health issues because, Yay for genetics!  Sometimes you find out your kid has something you weren't even sure was a real thing (like ADHD for example).

But best of all, sometimes people have children because all anyone ever tells them is how great it is.  They're told it's the most rewarding job in the world and that they'll be paid in kisses and hugs and macaroni art.  They're told that even though their homes are clean and their wallets full, their hearts are empty husks until they bring children into their lives.  They are only told that parenting has its "challenges" but they pale in comparison to those sweet-kissy rewards.  And besides, a good parent can overcome any parenting difficulties.

So, sometimes people don't get the chance to think about parenting before they become parents because they're never told the truth.  That they will love their children fiercely which will make their struggles so much more painful, their angry words so much more hurtful, their behaviours so much more worrisome.

That whatever they thought parenting was going to be like they could never truly be prepared for it because it all depends on the child you end up with and you don't get to pick.  That your kids never got to pick you either and that means they are stuck with whatever skills you do or do not have.

"She should have thought of that before she had kids" is one of the most useless, unhelpful, self-righteous statements I have ever heard in my life.  It is a statement completely devoid of compassion or thought.  Judgmental bitches can take this statement and shove it right up their asses.  Should have plenty of company with their heads.

Me?  I'm just gonna keep on keepin' it real.