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Awkward Questions

Questions most parents dread fielding from their children:

  • “Where do babies come from?”
  • “Have you ever gotten drunk?”

Anxiety producing questions for me and Matt:

  • “What does that part do?”
  • “What’s the name of that thing?”

Saints preserve us, Simon is showing early signs of being a gear head. To fully appreciate the horror of this, you must understand the degree of mechanical ineptitude Matt and I jointly and severally possess. It ain’t pretty.

Matt descends from a family whose idea of a tool-chest is a kitchen drawer containing a ruler, screwdriver, hammer, and pencil. Perhaps more tragically, I descend from handy folks on both sides, but express none of the genes myself. It’s partially a matter of a really bad spatial capacity and partially a matter of total lack of interest.

So when, say, Simon wants to take the lid off the toilet tank and watch the parts move, the conversation with his father sounds like this:

“What’s that Daddy?”

“I don’t know. But did you know your mommy can fix a toilet?”

And with me the conversation sounds like this:

“What’s that, Mommy?”

“That’s the fill valve. I tried to replace one once.”

“And what’s that?”

“That’s the flush valve. I broke that once while fixing the fill valve.”

“How does it work?”

“Magic, kid, magic.”

I’m quite serious about this last bit. Matt just recently looked shocked that I could not explain the workings of an internal combustion engine. My mom was pretty horrified, too. But I just cannot get the information to stick in my head. Simon asked me to lift the hood on the car a week or so ago, and I halfway expected to find a fire-breathing dragon in there. And really, Matt should be kinder to me, as his own attempts to install a car battery himself left me stranded in a parking lot THREE TIMES in as many weeks. (That would be the vet, the mall, and Adath Jeshurun preschool, in order.)

When Matt and I last discussed Simon’s un-nurtured proclivities, I laughed off the situation with a taunt. “Good luck with that, kiddo. Look at your parents!” Matt is taking another tack: “Awesome. How soon before he can fix stuff for us?” Time, I think, to arrange for Simon to spend some quality time with his metal-forging, car-repairing, floor-laying, crown-molding-installing hydraulics engineer of an Uncle Perry.

Help him, Uncle Perry. You are his only hope.

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