Yes, well, what chance did we have of learning to fix anything with this kind of role modelling going on? The Mom, in all fairness, hasn’t always billed her methods of home repair as the Fainting Female. In fact, it was always presented to us as: call an expert. We have long been fans of experts. I think this comes from having been a bit of an academic family – Your Father is a professor, The Mom has been kicking around a university long enough to realise that there are experts in everything, and to learn that we are experts in nothing handy or useful. But, we do have an impressive roster of experts to hand.
I have to say though, that I’m more of the seven-year-old’s mindset when it comes to this sort of thing. I’ll only seek out advice from an expert when things have gone terribly, terribly wrong. I have friends over here and when dealing with visa and immigration thngs, have always ensured they’ve got at least one – if not three – lawyers to hand. Me, I do all my own paperwork. This might be foolish, but I’m five visas in and so far – knock wood and pray to Teresa May – so good. But then, I look at the guidance, and The Mom has never been a fan of the instructions.
When we had our first encounter with IKEA furniture, no one in my family thought it would be useful looking at the instructions. They were treated as though they were a collective insult to our intelligence. I however, took at least a cursory glance at the things. My bookcases may be wobbly, but that’s not down to the construction, rather it’s the sheer and staggering number of large format hardcover books I have.
But when it comes to learning about how my home works and picking up some random tips, I’m a fan of asking a lot of questions. Once, I was writing a story about a man who, in an act of revenge, steals his wife’s toilets. I had no idea how involved this might be, and as I was living in a condo The Mom had recently purchased for me, that was still under construction when I moved in. I simply flagged down a construction worker, and asked how I might go about stealing someone’s toilet. The nice construction man immediately invited himself in and we stood around my toilet as he explained: drain the water, get a carpet cutter and chisel away at the bottom, remove the pipe there et voila! Toilet ready to go! I was so impressed I seriously considered practicing my new skills when next at The Mom’s, but thankfully had moved onto other things by the time I visited.
I really do admire the seven-year-old’s way of thinking. I think we should all know how to do basic things around the house. But I also take The Mom’s point: she’s got better things to do than fiddle around with a pipe, and from a practical point of view, since she can’t even see where the leak is, even if she stands on a chair, no amount of plumbing knowledge is going to help her.
Maybe though, when I’m home in August, I might pop by and see if the seven-year-old can lend me her tools, and show me a thing or two. Just in case.