Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Assault and Batteries

One of the many great things about fatherhood is the ego-boost you can get from your admiring kids. For example, my girls believe that I can fix just about anything.

Now, if you know me you know that I’m not the handiest guy on the planet. I can hammer a nail, but it will take me a dozen strikes (and maybe another nail or two) to get it in. I can saw through a piece of wood, but it won’t be straight. I do technically know how to install a ‘molly bolt’, but woe be it to the drywall that I drive it into – and to the person standing under whatever the molly bolt was holding up when it pops out four or five months later.

But the girls don’t see this. What they see is a guy that makes toys speak again, builds entire dollhouses, and, wizard-like, knows the intricacies of the magical toy-healing potion known only as ‘super-glue’ (or, in Sylvia’s case, ‘slooper-goo’).

So, they often give my little ego a nice boost by occasionally saying things like, “Daddy can fix anything!” (Oh girls, if only that were true! We’ll both wish it so when you go through that first really traumatic break-up in high school…)

Thus, life with kidlets being what it is, my work desk often resembles something like an elf’s station in Santa’s Workshop. Currently my ‘fix-it’ workload is pretty light, as I see a maraca, two streetlights from a train set, a princess cell phone, and one Richard Scarry book in need of repair. Often, that pile can be three to four times larger, and it usually is. Plus, there is… ‘The Fix-It Basket’.

Current contents of The Fix-It Basket: two belly-dancer tops and a Garfield (neither of which I can do much for, as those are sewing items and are thus waiting for Grandma to come again), two more silent cell phones (hmm… why wouldn’t I just let them stay silent???), some electronic toy with a button that says ‘Giggle!’ on it (again, maybe silence is a virtue here), a headband missing a bow, a hook for a tennis-ball toy that I installed in the basement (and whose molly bolts keep popping out), a part of a cat toy, a beaded key ring, and some various parts to toys that I’d already fixed – but then realized later that I’d forgotten a part or two (see paragraph #2 above…).

But herein lies a challenge for the modern dad: the amazing diversity of batteries that are out there these days. When I was a kid, there were five basic types of modern household batteries. Life was simple: A-D, done. Then, as electronics became smaller, along came the Double-A, then the Triple-A. Still, it was all pretty simple though. No longer.

Today, I can spend weeks with ‘L1152’ or ‘CR4403’ on my To-Do list, constantly eyeing Target, Home Depot, the grocery, and virtually everywhere else we go trying to find the one obscure, tiny, disc-like battery that will fit into some tiny toy or book that's supposed to have stars twinkling on the last page. I’ve broken down a few times now (often after finding only the L1150 and not the L1152, in the sixth store I’ve looked in) and ordered batteries online, sometimes loading up on each type based on the assumption that I’ll need that size and style of battery for SOMETHING soon.

But, while the frustrations of battery hunting these days can sometimes pile up, it is always SO worth it when you finally find the right one, work through your selection of tiny screw drivers to open the tiny back cover of a certain toy, fumble through getting old batteries out and new batteries in, and then hand the now-happily chattering toy back to one of the girls.

They take it, look at it suspiciously for a second, then push a button. When they hear the toy start speaking to them again, their eyes light up and they immediately look at me with a look that says, “Holy crap dad, you really did fix it! This is amazing!” Then they run off through the house, showing off the newly repaired cell phone or talking doll to their sister, mom, and whoever else is around.

So, it’s pretty amazing to be able to ‘fix everything’, even if that ‘everything’ is just for now.

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