Sunday, August 22, 2010

In which the kid breaks the house

Kiddo has been fortunate enough to have her own bathroom since we moved to this house.  We've been fortunate in that regard as well; it is really, really nice to not have to share a shower/tub with eighty zillion dinosaurs, Barbies, rubber duckies and other assorted tub toys, especially given the issues such tub toys and my nearsightedness have had in the past.

Anyhow, in Kiddo's bathroom (which is also the one used by any overnighting guests), there are three towel bars.  Two of them are on the walls in front of and next to the toilet and the third is in the tub area itself.  All three towel bars are set fairly high on the walls - she has to reach up to touch them.

Kiddo decided, shortly after moving in and beginning to use her bathroom, that it would be a most brilliant plan indeed to hang on the towel bars and/or the end pieces between which the bar itself is held.  Hubby and I both explained to her, on the several occasions in which we caught her in the act, that not only was this as far from a brilliant plan as possible, but it could cause serious damage to herself and the walls and she was (obviously) Strictly Forbidden from doing it, EVER.

Within the first year of living here, she managed to snap one towel bar - after several of the above warnings - and a second towel bar is now dangling loosely (of course she claimed no knowledge of how that happened) on the wall.  Clearly, our Strict Forbidding was only working for those moments when we were actually, physically in the bathroom with her to glare admonishingly while she was reaching up for the bars.  Hubby replaced the one bar and the second continues to dangle a bit precariously, while the third - the one in the tub itself - remained whole.

Around 5:45 yesterday evening (afternoon?), Kiddo went up to take a shower.  I started it for her, made sure the liner part of the curtain was inside the tub and then came downstairs.  Not one full minute later, there was a most tremendous crashing and clattering sound, followed immediately by  "MOOOOOOOOOOM!  I DIDN'T MEAN TO BUT I BROKE THE *incoherent sobbing*" that had Hubby and me racing upstairs.

Now, Hubby and I are lacking in the CSI type equipment with which to reconstruct the crime scene.  We have none of the fancy lasers or the fingerprint dusting kits or the swabs and chemicals to test with, but I'm sure if we did they'd have been positive for shenanigans, along with second grader-sized fingerprints and DNA all over the place.  Even without Grissom and his crew, we were able to deduce what had happened within the first few seconds.  Kiddo had apparently decided (once again!) to hang off the towel bar in the tub.  The towel bar that is made of the same substance as the tiles on the wall.  The towel bar that was one, molded piece.  The towel bar that was not just affixed to the wall, but actually into the wall.  We were able to deduce this because we found Kiddo standing in the tub, covered in bits of broken tile, grout and drywall, screaming and crying her head off, the shower still on full blast with the liner now out of the tub so that water was spraying onto the floor, the towel bar in pieces on the tub floor and bathroom floor and several shattered tiles in the tub and on the floor as well.  (Her living daylights, wits and bejezus, however, were nowhere to be found, because clearly she'd scared them completely out.)  Where the towel bar once hung there was naught but a gaping hole, minus several of the goldenrod tiles that had been there mere moments before.

I immediately turned the shower off, grabbed a towel and picked Kiddo up out of the disaster area, carrying her into our bathroom while Hubby dealt with the disaster area itself.  As I carefully picked bits of broken tile and drywall out of her hair and checked her over for injuries (none, thankfully), she began her Ultra-Super-Duper Symphony of Remorse, key of B minor.  Sample lyrics include

"I am so, so, so, so, so, so, soooo ashamed" 
and its counterpoint
"I am so, so, so, so, so, so, soooo sorry" (repeat ad nauseum)

"I didn't mean to do it."

It was the "I didn't mean to do it" that helped me most to not just melt into a puddle of goo in the face of the full-on Remorse Symphony (complete with tear-filled, big brown eyes and quivering lower lip, not to mention an expression of abject sorry).  Because, as Hubby and I both tried to explain to her, it wasn't so much that she didn't mean to do it, but rather that she didn't mean to get caught.  She wasn't accidentally playing Nadia Comaneci using the towel bar while mid-shower.  She wasn't standing under the spray, industriously shampooing when all of a sudden an unseen being propelled her hands up and onto the towel bar.  She wasn't suddenly surrounded by prehistoric piranhas who came shooting out of the showerhead, forcing her to jump up and cling to the bar as her only means of escape.

Nope, she decided to disregard not only the many Strict Forbiddings and the historical precedent of Kiddo Swings/Flexed-Arm Hangs from Towel Bar, Towel Bar Breaks.  She was hanging from the towel bar because she darn well wanted to, and the 45 year old towel bar decided it had had quite enough of *that* thankyouverymuch and came flying off the wall, shattering as it went.

By the time I'd gotten Kiddo taken care of and deposited her, sniffling and weeping and still singing the Remorse Symphony, into her bedroom, Hubby had cleaned up the mess in her bathroom, which included at least an inch of water on the floor.  I fixed dinner for Kiddo and then put her to bed.  I also levied the consequence of her actions upon her: No puppy next year.  (Now, please note we hadn't actually ever said with 100% certainty that we were getting a puppy next year.  All we'd said in the Puppy Quest matter - Kiddo's nearest and dearest, most fervent and passionate wish is to get a puppy and another kitten, but really, she'd make do with our current cat so long as there was a puppy on the scene - was that we wouldn't be getting one this year.  Kiddo extrapolated in her extremely optimistic way that this meant we'd be getting the puppy next year for sure.  We hadn't specifically disabused her of that notion, though in the back of the grown-ups' minds, a puppy was far from a sure thing next summer.  Now, however, there is no doubt - there will be no puppy in 2011.  This is by far the most serious and dire punishment we could give to Kiddo.)  We had a talk about listening to one's parents and how Daddy and Mommy don't just arbitrarily make up rules because we can, but because we do, in fact, know what is best in terms of keeping Kiddo safe, sound, healthy and happy.  (Okay, yeah, I know, sometimes we do just make up rules because we can, but hey, isn't that one of the hard-won perks of being a parent, to enact the Because I Said So! rule?)

Hubby did some research on the repair job our new hole in the wall is going to require.  Now, the bathroom is on the (exhaustingly lengthy) list of Rooms to Be Renovated.  However, it isn't next or even next-to-next on the list.  So, we don't really have the energy, enthusiasm or budget for tackling a full-on renovation in there right now, which would include removing all the heinous, goldenrod tile and retiling both the tub/shower area and the floor, along with stripping the hideous, 60s-butterfly-n-sunflower wallpaper, replacing fixtures (which will likely involve a lot of rewiring as well) and replacing the faux-marble-with-gold-veins countertop with an actual vanity.  We don't even have the energy or enthusiasm to just tackle the tub/shower portion of that project right now.  So, Hubby is going to try to patch the hole in the wall (we can see clear through to the studs - yowza) and then put in replacement tiles (which won't actually match the goldenrod ones, but such is life - the new tiles will serve as a reminder to Kiddo of What She Did, I suppose) and regrout everything.  It isn't like we could really make that bathroom any uglier, anyhow, and that way it will be functional (albeit minus one towel bar) again.

So, thus concludes the saga of how we became a real life Hole in the Wall Gang, courtesy of one relatively small seven year old breaking the house.  I was heartened by the comments on my previous post, especially the one in which someone else's child broke their house.  It's good to know that I'm not alone.  I just hope this is the last time we are faced with a hole in the house that isn't one of our own, purposeful making!


Paige said...

well I have to admit that when I read that the tiles were goldenrod, I thought--oh good--they can re-do the bathroom now!

I bet you get a lot of mileage out of this one

I too have a towel rack hanging in the hall bath and it has been for 4 years--I have no kids to blame it on and a husband who wont fix it, but laughs every time I mention it

Mammatalk said...

Poor little rascal!

My name is Andy. said...

Ahh the joys!!! I love the "no dog" consequence!!

Happy Tiling !

Givinya De Elba said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Ok... aside from the whole drama of the situation - that was the FUNNIEST blog I have read in a VERY VERY VERY long time.

Kirby said...

Aww your poor Kiddo! Can you imagine the look on her face when that happened at that very second? Oh my goodness! I swear I feel like my kids will burn down my house at any point and time!

I'm your newest follower, Hot Tub Lizzy had a post about you so I came over and read your blogs! Can't wait to hear more!

brainella said...

Oh my. I have a five year old boy and he's never noticed the towel bars. I never contemplated that particular issue. Dang!

And bravo for staying strong in the face of the Remorse Sympathy. It's sometimes VERY difficult not to be swayed by it. :)

Creative Junkie said...

Oh Heather - I'm sorry! Just what you needed after the email suckfest.

Want me to send Nate over there with his diamond blade saw and grouter thingy?

Emily Sue said...

Wow, if I'd done that as a kid I think I would have been out the window before I could get caught (although hunger would have driven me back eventually and then the consequences would have been worse... I'm not saying it would have been a GOOD plan...) Well done on being strong and playing the 'no puppy' card.

Jen said...

I am not going to even tell you how many holes my children have put in our house. And its a brand new house but really, it didn't stand a chance against 4 rambunctious kids.

Givinya De Elba said...

I came back for another read after visiting Hot Tub Lizzy today! Seriously - awesome story. Kiddo's Symphony still has me chucking today!!

Frizzy and Bird said...

Heard about you from HT Lizzy too. This is a funny story as she promised and makes my 4 year old's shinanigans seem not so bad. Thanks for the chuckle and I'm glad she was ok.

tulpen said...

Sorry she destroyed your bathroom but her lamenting is hysterical!!

Debbie said...

I am mostly proud of you for not turning into a pool of goo over this! When they get so upset, it is often hard for me to remember they were being bad in the first place!
Sorry about the redo. We have some walls like that in our house. Sooner or later, you learn to overlook them:)

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Well, at least she didn't get hurt. And I am VERY impressed that you didn't go ballistic over this! She could have seriously hurt herself...

Note to self: No towel bars in bathtubs.

Melissa said...

Over from the Hot Tub.....

You are so not alone. My youngest was given the nickname "Destructo" which we have since denounced at the fear of her living up to said name. She has kissed freshly painted walls with lipstick, bitten tips off markers, cut fur off the cat...I could go on and on.
She is the perverbial "bull in the china shop".

No, my new friend. You are not alone.

Jane said...

I really don't know how I would react if that happened to my daughter. But even though you need to do some repairs, I am glad that she's not hurt.