‘The loo won’t flush!’ the Small One’s voice comes squeaking down the corridor. I look at American Mom but she doesn’t appear to have heard him. I go to the Small One’s rescue and find that his claim is valid. When I return to the kitchen, a plunger and a toolbox have presented themselves and American Mom is nowhere to be seen. I have never been very good at dealing with disasters in the home. DIY hasn’t been one of my strong points since my dad asked me to stain a wooden door frame when I was quite young. My older brother’s favourite t-shirt was ruined. There was a scene. And there is a patch of skin on my arm that has not since recovered. Now, the sight of the toolbox makes me feel uneasy. My anxiousness worsens when I see a note nestled between the hammer and the spanner, which reads ‘you may as well have a crack at putting those shelves up in the sitting room while this is out. Thanks!’ in American Mom’s scrawl.
I stick a piece of paper on the door of the loo saying OUT OF ORDER. But in my panic I have forgotten that the Small One’s reading age is below average. He ignores the bossy sign and immediately floods the bathroom. Meanwhile, the Eldest has picked up the spirit level from the toolbox. As he shakes it, he asks sincerely if it is some sort of 90s game ‘from before Playstations were invented’. I want to cry but I don’t know if it’s because of the Eldest’s ageist comments or because I have just hit my finger with the hammer in my derisive attempt to put the shelves up. The Middle One has been watching events unfold with amusement. I’m about to order her to go and make me a cup of tea (apparently there is one aspect of the builder’s life that I can get on board with) but before I can, she gets up and takes the hammer out of my hand. The Eldest and I are both baffled by this turn of events so we sit in silence as we watch her expertly erect a shelf. By way of explanation we receive nothing but a shrug and something mumbled about YouTube and DT class. I am too impressed to probe.
As usual, one success is achieved at the expense of many failures. One failure in this instance is the loss of the Small One’s favourite cuddly toy to the biblical bathroom flood. I tell him that his tears will only add to the water volume but it doesn’t stop him bawling. In a stroke of genius, the Eldest gives him the spirit level, which seems to do the trick.