You kids can’t have nice things

I grew up in a big family. As one of the youngest, I lived under whatever reputation my older siblings had created for us, no matter how poorly I fit that reputation.

The reputation that became firmly attached to us was that of being destroyers of all things pleasant, carefully crafted, or well-intentioned. It didn’t matter that I cared for my toys and did not try to break things merely because broken was the natural state in our world. I was a cemented piece in the group, you kids, as in “You kids can’t have nice things.”

My only relief was the hope that when I grew up I could surround myself with things that were not broken and people who did not shake their heads at me with the sad knowledge that it was only a matter of time.

Fortunately, I was never able to afford the expensive sorts of nice things. The nice things I collected as a young adult were modest. My possessions were not impressive, but they were not broken either. Against all odds, I proved that I could have nice things.

For a while.

Then came children – two boys who love to use all the strength possessed by their little fingers to affect change. Everything they touch is altered by their hands. I’m learning to think of these objects not as broken, just different than they used to be.

Playing with cat and bus

Younger children sometimes labor under the misapprehension that upside-down is adequately broken. It is not. His big brother will teach him how to thoroughly break things.

At first, I tried to move things out of the reach of active, little hands. But there is only so much space up high. Some things must be left to take their chances. Consequently, I now have a fine collection of CD cases that don’t stay shut, filled with ripped paperwork and the wrong CDs, which are all scratched to hell. It’s a good thing only old people use such ancient media anymore.

The boys’ aunt gave us a German cuckoo clock. The clock is too beautiful for us. If we had any gratitude, we’d buy a better house to move the clock into. The boys, unused to seeing such fine things in our house, were overcome with the desire to handle it with their inquisitive, spasmodic hands. I quickly hung it high on the wall, much to their mutual disappointment.

Reaching for the cuckoo

A scene from the baby’s fantasy, in which he can reach the clock and straighten out that crazy bird once and for all.

Every hour, a bird shoots out of the clock to renew their disappointment. If only they could get their paws on that clock for two minutes, what happy boys they’d be.

Yesterday, I brought sleeping Little Brother in from the car as the clock struck one. The cuckoo popped out and did his thing. The boy woke and pointed at the clock. “Ooooh,” he said, before dropping back to sleep. For those not fluent in Babyish, “Ooooh” has many meanings, depending upon the context. Here, it means: “That bird is adequate. One day I’ll get up there to yank on him, and then he’ll be perfect.”

Don’t get the idea that I resent my children’s object-altering hands. I adore those four hands. I wasted years running away. Those hands have returned me to my roots.

I can’t have nice things.

I’m home.

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22 comments on “You kids can’t have nice things

  1. My kids can’t have nice things either. Also, we can’t have glue, scissors, paint, permanent markers, or chocolate. We tried. It made our nice things less nice.

  2. Nicole says:

    When I first had children, I resolved that I wouldn’t be among those parents with large collections of broken or toys because I would throw away whatever the kids broke. Then they’d learn not to break their stuff. Now I know that I’d have to throw away just about EVERYTHING and the question is what’s too broken to keep and throwing the things away after they break it doesn’t discourage the breaking at all. It just means they have to move on to breaking things they haven’t broken yet.

  3. Traci says:

    Sounds like it skipped a generation.

  4. Rolls of duct tape are pretty inexpensive. I’m not sure the cuckoo clock would look good with traditional silver duct tape, but I have seen camouflage duct tape in stores.

  5. stacybuckeye says:

    Gage is very into ‘fixing’ things these days. His toy hammers can cause damage than you’d think. A few days he ‘fixed’ mommy. So thoughtful.

  6. […] Snoozing on the Sofa follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. […]

  7. dishofdailylife says:

    Loved your post – found you from WordPress’ Fathers Day Roundup! My youngest has taken apart so many computers over the years (among other things) – fortunately not any that were currently being used although I did lose stuff on one because I did not know he was doing it! He always wanted to figure out how to put them back together. Then last year he and his older brother decided to build a computer and they actually did it, completely by themselves. And it works!

  8. […] Snoozing on the Sofa follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. […]

  9. […] Snoozing on the Sofa follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. […]

  10. Ajule says:

    I feel your pain, or at least, “I feel the same”. I am familiar with what happens to nice things when little ones are part of the household. Yes, it is worse than having just pets. Love balances out the negatives vs positives, right?

    • There’s not enough stuff in my house for them to break that would tip the balance against them. Maybe if I were rich and had really, really nice things, they might be in trouble. But as things are, the kids are pretty safe.

  11. […] Snoozing on the Sofa follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. […]

  12. […] Snoozing on the Sofa follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. […]

  13. […] Snoozing on the Sofa follows older dad Scott as he navigates marriage and fatherhood, and learns that he can no longer have nice things. […]

  14. Roseanna says:

    Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

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