Well, another broken TV has once again slapped this family in the already red-cheeked face. If anyone out there is counting, this is the fourth TV from our household that has had a very short lifespan. I’d love to say we’re idiots and keep buying the same type of TV and the short lifespan has to do with the crappy quality, but no. That wouldn’t be as fun as, oh, the truth. Which is, may I add, that we keep breaking them.
A few years ago, when Number Two was in all his undiagnosed and unmedicated glory, he climbed atop a very ridiculous microwave cart-turned TV stand and proceeded to pull our 30-inch, fifty pound Magnavox off the stand and nearly onto himself. Luckily, he was able to sidestep injury and certain crushing with the maneuverability of ADHD boys that must be a defense mechanism they are ingrained with, because otherwise, there would be many more hilarious albeit grave injuries around here.We never replaced that TV because at the time we had a newborn slumbering in our room and didn’t require a TV – we were much too tired at 8 pm to watch anything. When we moved to a new house, we not only bought a small TV for our bedroom, but a 55-inch flat screen for our new living room. After the newborn was older and mobile, he started climbing onto the stand and behind the TV, scaring the bejesus out of me for more reasons than just the impending owie.
Eventually I taught him not to climb up there (spray bottles are not just for cats) and TV life was a bit more relaxed . . . until I started babysitting on a regular basis. Every single toy was a weapon and the target was a thousand dollars of electronic heaven. I saw stuffed animals flying through the air and pictured grenades where their eyes should be. Toy guns were bazookas. Building blocks were, well, building blocks and I was having tiny heart attacks nearly every time I had to duck into the next room for a blankie or to prepare a snack. I was sweating the fact that every second of the day when there were multiple children in my home was a potential threat to my relationship (how does one tell her hubby about another broken TV?).
Well, one day near naptime, I filled two sippy cups of milk and gave them to the twin boys I was babysitting. I went back to the kitchen for something, leaving them watching Disney Jr. Within seconds, I hear banging and yelling and honestly? I had been hearing banging and yelling all day and was at the absolute end of my rope with the noise level that seems to surround boys. Marching into the living room to put an end to the yelling, I spied with my little eye two two-year-old boys smashing their sippy cups into the TV screen . . . that no longer had a picture. Lesson learned: milk sippies and ten seconds can completely change a life. Another lesson learned: telling hubby and telling the parents was extremely awkward. Still don’t know exactly how I got through it.
We bought another TV within a few days and I was back in my hubby’s good graces after I stopped babysitting, because, in his defense for sounding a bit like a lunatic for suggesting I quit after suggesting babysitting to make money to earn back the cost of the TV, more kids in the house equals more mess and more destruction . . . and more cost. It was 11 months later when I was blow-drying my hair in the bathroom and Number Three comes in holding a Nerf bat that his brother had just gotten for his birthday. He was babbling something that sounded a lot like, “wook at da bwoken TB.” My heart thudded . . . thump, step into the hallway . . . thump, thump, thump . . . turn the corner, see black screen . . . thump, thump, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep . . . see very large cracks all over the screen . . .
“What did you DOOOOOO?!?!?!” I semi-yelled, semi-cried.
“I hitted the TB wif da bat. It bwoken, wight?”
Oh. My. Goodness. Eleven months. How do I tell Hubby that our infant of a TV, the third in three years, is destroyed? Honestly I cannot recall how I told him, but I do recall lots of tears and a sore throat . . . that small TV we had in the bedroom was now to be moved to the living room much to the very vocal chagrin of Hubby.
A few short months later we put that house up for sale and Hubby and I decided that I’d start babysitting again once we moved to earn money for a new TV. But Hubby, being the type A person he is, went ahead and bought a new TV to be delivered when we moved in to the new house. Another 55-inch beaut, set atop the same TV stand we love (you know, the one the youngest liked to stand on). Sadly, the poor thing stood no chance at all in the Wilson house.
A few nights ago I asked Number Two to close the blinds in the living room. He surprisingly surrendered to it, mutely and without a moment of opposition, shocking me into silence as he closed the first one. Reach up on tiptoes, pull down. I turned and bent to pick up some mess and heard a yell and crash . . . and upon turning around found Number Two standing on the TV stand which stands in front of a window, alone, with his hands over his mouth and eyes wide. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m soooo sorry!” The TV was upside down on the floor. The TV was upside down on the floor. The TV was upside down on the floor.
“It’s broken.” I said in disbelief. “It’s broken.”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
“It’s broken?!” I may have been in shock. And all I could think was, “These things happen in threes. These things happen in threes!”
“I’m sorry! It was an accident. I didn’t mean it!” His hands were still on his mouth.
“Ohhhhh no. Oh no. You have to call Dad. Oh no. I cannot tell him about a fourth broken TV.”
“Noooo! It was an accident!”
“Help me lift it up so we can see if it really is broken. Oh jeez.” We lifted it up and set it back down on its base. The screen was blue with shards of colors jutting out of the point of impact. Geometric art.
“Get the phone now. You’re telling Dad.” I couldn’t stop myself from repeating. And I’m making myself sound waaaay better that I actually was. I may have damaged my throat from screaming in terror . . .
So folks, this is how you tell your Hubby that the fourth TV in four years has been broken:
“Dad?” My crying third boy said. “I broke the TV!”
You pass the buck. I’m not super ashamed of this.
And kudos to Hubby for not freaking out on him. He asked which one, with great trepidation I’m sure as his pride and joy is the 80-incher we have in the basement. When he heard it was the small one, he asked if it was an accident and, being assured there were no shenanigans going on – no toys being thrown from the catwalk, no wrestling in the living room – he asked to talk to me.
What does he want with me? What am I going to say?
“Are you crying? What are you crying for? It’s just a TV.”
Utter shock and disbelief. Who is this guy?
“Yes, I’m crying. Our TV is broken. The fourth one. I know how much it cost and I know it’s my fault. I should have known he would try to stand behind the TV to reach the blinds. I’ve been his mom long enough to know that everything is a playground.”
“No. He was doing what you asked and it happened. We’ll figure it out, but maybe no water park this spring because the cost of the replacement is about the same cost as the trip.” Great.
I got off the phone and went to hug Number Two, who was still crying about his impending punishment. He was shocked when I hugged him and told him that I knew it was an accident.
“Mom, I need to go to my room,” he said, pulling away from me. “I gotta get my expensive toys and sell them. My iPod, my DS –”
“Yeah, me too,” Number One interrupted, “and I want to contribute this.” He handed me a five dollar bill.
My heart grew three sizes that day. We went to the kitchen and found a mason jar. The boys put their money into it and I dumped out all the change from every change magnet in the house. It’s a small jar and a small amount of money, but the thought is mighty. Now, I’m not going to let them sell their expensive toys, but I will let them put their hard-earned money into the jar. In the face of adversity, I love that they decided to work together to solve a problem. Until the problem is solved, I’ll be babysitting again. No sippy cups in the living room and no Nerf bats anywhere. And I’ll be doing all the chores myself for a looong while.