My Kids vs My House


My 3 sons are 7, 4.5, and 1.5, so I spend a lot of time watching them slowly destroy my house. Now, it's not that I put inanimate objects above my living offspring (all the time), buuuuuuuuuut it was a lot of work to install the kitchen with a friend 2 years ago, not to mention that mother wasn't free.

However, if I'd known things like the dishwasher door would one day be used as a diving board, I may have looked differently at the appliances I was purchasing. I didn't like loading and unloading the dishwasher before I had kids, now this banal activity has to be done with a 25-pound Greg Louganis warming up for a graceful fall into the refrigerator. 

"C'mon man, can't you just let me finish with the dishes so you can get back to trying to take off your diaper and pee on the floor?"

A fellow parent suggested that stores should really start selling lines of "Parenting Grade" household items. A "Parenting Grade" dishwasher would advertise a door that, "Holds up to 75 pounds!" A bachelor may think: "Who has 75 pounds worth of dishes?" A parent would think: "Perfect for the high dive!"

"Parenting Grade" oven handles would double as pull up bars. Cabinet knobs would be climbing wall hand-holds. The vacuum would come with a built-on seat for easy riding while cleaning. Windows would have a protective film that could be removed in a decade. The snack cabinet would have an electrified fence around it. 

And why stop in the house? You could get "Parenting Grade" car that comes ready for easy car seat installation. It scares me how many times I've fantasized about beating a car seat designer with a tack hammer. But someone needs to pay for the hours of my life spent digging between the seats for these mystery metal hooks that I didn't know existed (and don't exist on some cars!) yet feel like they are somewhere near the drive train, and are the only thing standing between my child and a gruesome death. 

Why can there not be a "Parenting Grade" car where these metal hooks are on the outside of the seat to begin with? Sure, the seat would be rendered uncomfortable for anyone not in a car seat, but with rapidly changing safety guidelines, by next year the National Highway Traffic Safety Association is going to have me strapping my 5'5" wife in the back. 

"Honey, put your arms down! Put your arms down so I can get the straps on and we can get you to work on time ... I know, I know, I'll get you your water once I've attached the lower buckle .... Where is that lower buckle? Are you sitting on it? Are you sitting on the lower buckle?"

With all the buckles on, the kid in the car seat is in a 3 point harness. Then there are 3 different ways to hook the car seat the car itself. But you're only supposed to hook it up in 2 out of the 3 ways (specifically told not to hook it up all 3 ways!). Why? Because we're dealing with the sadists in the world of car seat design.

Several (possibly 83) times over the last few years my wife has said, "Dammit, Mike! You didn't hook up the car seat right!"

"Honey, if junior's in a 3 point harness in a 2-point-locked-in car seat, he'll be the only one who survives a crash! Then he'd be an orphan. Is that what you want?"

My wife mutters something about "sad excuse for a husband" and "forcing me to move to Iowa" as she climbs into our vehicle. She straddles the car seat, and I look away from the flurry of hands, seat belts, hooks, straps, and obscenities. 20 short minutes later, the car seat is properly installed, and we've each taken a year off our lives.

But with the knowledge that our children are safe, we breathe easy and head back in the house just in time to see one kid fall from the dishwasher door head first into the fridge.