When kids drive you crazy

Yesterday was a busy day of laundry and cleaning. Not only did it need to be done, but I am expecting the landlord to come by today for our annual inspection to make sure that our apartment is still intact and that we aren’t housing any pets like dogs or the regular city sewage rat. Thankfully, we have neither. Children are enough of a necessary hassle to be tended to without adding an animal to the mix. And this was even more apparent when I heard something drop to the floor in the bathroom, and an “oops” out of my daughter. She rushed into the kitchen and grabbed some paper towels, and then disappeared around the corner.

“Everything ok?” I asked her.

“Um, fine,” she said. “Except I might have spilled some nail polish on the floor…” Engrossed in my work, I told her to just use some of the nail polish remover on the linoleum. “Uh, ok,” she said. “But it’s not coming out of the carpet.” I immediately stopped what I was doing and checked the damage. There were three noticeably black stains on the carpet, and spatters of paint on the linoleum and against the wooden door. Apparently a manicure for my daughter includes black nail polish. We worked together at the mess, only to leave a lightened color of black on all three surfaces. It wasn’t coming up no matter what we chose to do. And it was all done in time for the apartment manager to take note of. Freaking out wouldn’t even have helped the situation, so I just told her what was done, was done. And I advised her that manicures should probably be done on the front porch.

That evening, I loaded the last load of the day into the washer and then joined my son in my room as he messed with my Mac computer that has been lying in a corner thanks to a “Kernel Panic” message that had rendered it as useful as a doorstop. But my son was determined that he could fix it. After all, he had fixed his friend’s computer.

“How did you fix it?” I asked him, wondering if maybe my son was a computer genius and I didn’t even know.

Warning: Please skip the next two paragraphs and continue on to the main point of this story if technical stuff bores the heck out of you.

“I pressed every single button on it at the same time, and it worked again.” Yes. My son is a genius. “Maybe if I do that to this computer, it will work again too.” Being that I had basically given up this computer for dead long ago, having said my final farewells to all the writing and music that was held prisoner in the machine, I didn’t see what the harm was. I was brushing my teeth when he called me, excitedly. “Mom! It worked!” I raced back into the room, and sure enough he had gotten past the error message and was now at a screen that required my password. I typed it in, and my old familiar desktop appeared before me. Did I mention my kid’s a genius? And to think that I was actually musing about spending hundreds of dollars to fix it and retrieve all my files. Apparently all it needed was to have every single button pressed at the same time. Now that is tech support at its finest. We fiddled with the machine for a little while before realizing that we couldn’t access the internet. And the iTunes songs wouldn’t play. In fact, the volume seemed to be permanently on Mute. And the year on the machine was set to 1969. Now for those of you that really are techies, you probably already guessed what happened. My son had managed to enter into the computer via “Safe Mode”. So I restarted the computer to see if I could now enter it in the regular fashion. No dice. The “Kernel Panic” error message popped up again. The Taz suggested that we try pressing every single button again, but I was determined to find out what exactly needed to be pressed to get back in “Safe Mode”, and then what I needed to do once I was there so that my computer would work again.

I needed to send the Taz to bed before I could actually figure it out. But I did find out, and will share it with those of you who might be having Mac problems as well. To get into “Safe Mode” on a Mac, all you have to do is press “Shift” after the Start-Up sound is heard, and then hold it until the Apple on the grey screen pops up with the process wheel. You’ve gotta love the simplicity of Macs. At any rate, this is what is supposed to happen. Unfortunately, all that happened on mine is that it would take a really long time to load, and then would get hung up on something and shut itself off. So I researched some more and found a bunch of useful Mac shortcuts at guides.macrumors.com/keyboard_shortcuts. Among the shortcuts were a bunch to use at the start-up. One of them was to reset the PRAM, holding down command-option-P-R, and to continue holding all four keys until the second start up sound chimes. What this did was reset the video and display settings, time zone settings, volume settings, and, of course, recent kernel panic messages that had occurred. And then the computer started up again. Of course, it was still in “Safe Mode”, but now I could go through the computer and find the exact program that was bogging up my system, delete it, and be able to access my computer in regular mode again.

Now on with our story.

Pleased with myself, and with my son for giving me a clue to this puzzle, I went back downstairs to throw the clothes in the dryer and finally go to bed. But what I saw made me stop in my tracks. It appeared that the laundry detergent had exploded all over the dryer and was creating a nice blue lake on the floor, dripping in a slow moving waterfall from the top of the machine. I quickly moved the detergent bottle, to the bathroom and started sopping up the mess. It was amazing how much detergent had spilled out of the practically full bottle. And detergent is near impossible to clean up. It had traveled under the dryer, and every time I thought I had wiped it all up, it would seep out even more from underneath. A glance back at the bottle proved that the detergent wasn’t quite done escaping. There was now detergent all over my bathroom sink.

I thought that maybe I hadn’t shut the valve all the way, and I laid it on its side to prevent any more leakage. But now it was apparent that there must be a breakage in the bottle itself. I inspected the whole thing, looking for a weak spot that I hadn’t seen before, and I couldn’t see anything at first. But a second glance over, and that’s when I saw it.

It was barely noticeable at all, but on the lower corner of the bottle was a tiny hole, just big enough, apparently, to send out a steady stream of blue, sticky detergent. And that’s when I remembered seeing something else near the dryer in recent days.

A tack. I have no idea where this came from, or what it’s for. But it seemed to be the perfect size for a small tiny hole punched into the bottom of a brand new bottle of laundry detergent.

Yup, seems to be the right size.

It’s a match!

There was only one guess as to who was responsible for this.

I asked him about it the next day. And he swore he had no idea what I was talking about. But after much pressing, and a little reminder about trust, he finally fessed up and gave me a detailed description about how he had thought it was a fun idea to see if he could punch the tack through the thick plastic of the laundry detergent bottle.

Kids.

This is the perfect segue to mention the Challenge that I will be starting in the month of April. If you remember, March was the month when we gave up something for a whole 30 days. April, I promise, is way easier. This next month is dedicated to our kids, or rather, the things our kids do that drive us crazy. Not only do I want stories, I want photos too. I want pictures of the toothpaste overflowing onto the counter, the clothes left in a heap right next to the hamper, the dirty faces and clothes after a hard day of playing, the footprints on your clean floor… All of you have some sort of story about the shenanigans your kids have pulled, and we all want to hear them. So come on over to Santa Rosa Mom and share your battle scars in the forums.

In the meantime, I have more detergent creeping out from under my dryer, and the landlord is due any time now.

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