Sarah Simpson Column: Wild Saturday nights at home with the kids

I’ve never been particularly social. I was always a team sport player so I can function in that type of situation but as for going out to the clubs in university, it just wasn’t for me. I was always the friend they called for a ride home and I was always happy to help. Things didn’t change much as I got older. I was fortunate enough to marry a man equally antisocial. Our Saturday night entertainment before kids was usually spent at home in front of the TV watching any and all sporting events — from NHL, MLB, NFL and college sports to less mainstream sports like Aussie rules football and of course, world class rugby and soccer.

Heck, there were times we’d get sucked into watching competitive robotics and the Drone Racing League. Yes that’s a real thing. One season we got pretty into Indian Premier League cricket. We watched it every chance we got, often late into the night. I enjoyed the Chennai Super Kings and he preferred the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Things haven’t changed too much since we’ve become parents in that we still don’t go out much. Saturday nights now, when my husband isn’t working, are generally spent like any other night of the week with dinner, maybe a family movie or a puzzle or a game, then books and bed and whatnot. We try to sneak in our sport watching at every opportunity. The kids are never keen.

A couple weeks ago, I had been in one of those get-stuff-done/cleaning moods all day and I couldn’t walk by a chore without getting it done. I love being productive but also my mom was coming to town and I needed her to notice my house was clean and tidy and that we didn’t live like pigs, even though sometimes it feels like we do. I’m sure many of you know what I mean.

Anyway, after dinner on Saturday, I was cleaning off the counter above my washer and dryer when a small box of about a dozen dried up Crayola markers waiting to be sent in for recycling fell behind the machines. Not being able to ignore a task that day, I needed to get those felts and it had to be done that very minute. I got out the vacuum and was successful in sucking a couple but not all of them. So, I pulled the dryer out of from the wall and dropped my youngest in behind and she scooped them all up, we hailed her a hero and I thought we could move on.

But I couldn’t just leave the dust under the dryer, could I? I mean, I had the vacuum out anyway… So my husband and I pulled the dryer out all the way and I vacuumed in behind. It was only when we went to push it back into place that I noticed we’d actually disconnected the dryer transition duct that connects the venting system to the dryer. We were going to have to reattach it. It’s really not a big job, you just connect the pieces and tighten a screw on the little round clippy clamp thing (not a technical term) and that’s that. Quick and easy.

Or so we thought. The ducting piece only allowed the dryer to be pulled maybe a foot from the wall before it uncoupled. We couldn’t get it to straighten up enough to have an adult in behind the dryer to fix it. So, we called in reinforcements. We dropped my three-year-old back in there, pushed it just close enough to the wall to give her room to work then tried to talk her through it. She did really well… until it came time to tighten the screw. It was just too hard for her. So, in went my five-year-old. He did not enjoy the confined, dark space so we were left in a bit of a pickle.

My husband is a foot taller than me and couldn’t bend the way he needed to to lean over the dryer and fix it.

“Don’t get frustrated Big Guy,” said my daughter. But we were. It had been an hour and the project hadn’t even been on my list! (I was starting to think I should have just left the felts under the dryer.)

Eventually I was able to reattach the duct by wedging myself in behind the dryer upside down while my husband shone a flashlight for me. The kids had lost interest by then and were in the next room watching TV and colouring. We assumed.

We put the laundry room back together and went into the living room to find our grinning children, shirtless with a glint of mischief in their eyes. My daughter turned around to reveal her name scrawled across her chest in red felt courtesy of her big brother. My son’s name, well, he’d taken the time to scrawl his name in purple on his own chest in letters that would have been upside down to him but also backward so you’d need a mirror to read it properly.

These are Saturday nights at my house. Kind of the same chaos as a night on the town, but a little more time spent with felts and in the laundry room.

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