70: Out of the Mouths of Babes

70: Out of the Mouths of Babes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Out of the Mouths of Babes

If we would listen to our kids, we’d discover that they are largely self-explanatory.

~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

“Poo!” I stopped short at the bathroom door. Peering in, I saw my two-year-old daughter pointing excitedly at the toilet. Seeing me, she grew more animated and jabbed her pudgy little finger toward the bowl.


Aw, wasn’t that cute. After what seemed like a lifetime of noxious diapers, baby wipes, and sheets, my little girl was starting to get that whole potty thing down.

“That’s right, sweetie,” I said, smiling, “that’s where you go ‘poo.’ ”

Ignoring the bewildered look on my daughter’s face, I scooped her up and went off in search of my wife. “Honey!” I cried. “You can throw away those Pampers!”

Lost in my enthusiasm, I ignored my daughter’s continued cries.

“Poo! Poo!”

The following week my wife stormed into the family room.

“The toilet’s still stopped up. You really have to do something about it this time.”

Reluctant to pull my eyes from the game, I shot back, “I took care of it!”

“Jiggling the handle doesn’t count.”

Of course she was right. When it came to home repair, I wasn’t exactly Bob Vila. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy strapping on a tool belt and launching into do-it-yourself projects. Yep, I can fix everything from a broken heart to the crack of dawn with my bare hands.

And, with those same bare hands, dial the phone for an actual repairman.

That said, I confidently took on the task of fixing our only toilet. I ignored the fact that one small slip would place the family’s entire lavatorial capability in the, no pun intended, dumper.

Hoping to achieve maximum success with minimal effort, I pulled the flush lever. Watching the water slowly swirl down the drain, I jiggled the handle, hoping for the best.

As I watched the water leave the bowl about as slowly as in-laws go home after Thanksgiving, I knew this was going to take much longer than I feared. Grabbing the plumber’s helper, I commenced to violently plunge up and down like some manic Dutch milkmaid assaulting a butter churn.

Water flew everywhere. I jammed the plunger in as far as it could go before yanking it free in the hope that whatever was impeding the flow would be thrust onto the floor.

Out of breath, I ceased my exertions. Easing the plunger out of the way, I peered into the bowl. All I saw though were tiny, rusty flakes that no doubt had been violently ripped from the pipes by my efforts.

Time to give my original trick another shot. Maybe the clog had been loosened down the line and all it needed was another flush.

This time, the water went nowhere. Instead, it rose menacingly to the lip of the bowl. Frantically grabbing towels, dirty laundry, and anything else I could lay my hands on, I prepared for the flood.

Luckily, the water stopped just short of the rim.

At this point, I knew the problem couldn’t be solved by an amateur. A clog of this nature cried out for an expert who was highly skilled in the plumbing arts. Only a professional could get to the bottom — no pun intended — of this situation before my family was left without the means to flush away their problems — okay, pun intended.

In other words, time for me to tinker some more with it. Like a master hydraulic surgeon, I knew I’d have to remove the bowl.

Dutifully securing the valve feeding water into the tank, I checked to see what kind of wrench I’d need. Normally vise grips or channel locks with a rubber band would do the trick, but I knew it was critical that I not just guess. A wrong wrench thingie could shatter the fragile porcelain into a million pieces.

Passing my wife on the way to the garage, I assured her there was nothing to fear.

“You mean like that time you cleaned the fireplace and set the house on fire?”

Ignoring her, I kept on going.

“Or the time our furnace fell out of your truck and into the middle of Main Street?”

Finding what I needed, I returned to the family room. “Completely different situation,” I said, and headed toward our bathroom.

“You’re right,” she called after me. “This time you’re working on our only toilet. Want me to call the plumber now?”

She was just a Nervous Nelly, I groused, as I prepared to remove the bowl.

I gently removed the porcelain caps atop rusty anchor bolts. Better be extra careful. My wife was right about one thing. This was our only toilet.

I gently eased the wrench onto one of the bolts and paused. Now, which was it again? Righty-Tighty? Lefty-Loosey?

Suddenly, it came to me. If I’m looking down at a bolt, it’s the exact opposite. So, I have to go right to loosen a bolt!

Confident, I pushed at the nut. But, instead of watching it ease off its bolt, all I heard was a barely discernible crack.

Half a second later the entire toilet exploded, leaving me only with a rusty nut gripped firmly by a Sears Craftsman 1/2” combination wrench.

“What was that?” I heard my wife from the family room. Her cries were shortly followed by the stumbling footsteps of my daughter.

I’d done it again. I had written another chapter in the annals of my do-it-yourself disasters.

My daughter peeked in. Her eyes grew wide as she took in the devastation that littered the floor, the walls, and even the bathtub where she kept hundreds of Disney toys.

As I peered into the empty maw of the toilet outflow pipe, I saw the source of the clog. Nestled among the porcelain shards was a toothbrush, baby’s comb, half a wad of Kleenex, what looked like a bag of Twizzlers, and, grinning insanely up at me, a little plastic Winnie the…

My daughter clapped her hands and excitedly squealed, “Pooh!”

Yes, out of the mouths of babes…

~Ken Lynch

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