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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Plumber, revisited

I posted the video clip in my previous post because we actually were visited by a plumber Thursday. He arrived in the morning around nine and stayed until 2:30 p.m. He replaced our kitchen faucet and fixed leaks in the sink and shower in our master bathroom. The kitchen repair went quickly and smoothly. The bathroom repair did not. Shortly after noon Plumber's pager began making noise which continued periodically for about ninety minutes, at which point he left and came back with reinforcements. Between the three of them the drippy sink and shower were finished in an hour.

So now I have a new kitchen faucet and formerly drippy bathroom near my bedroom is no longer keeping me awake. I should be completely happy--and I am--except...


And don't tell me this is not a big deal because it is. All three sets of faucets now turn on and off differently from how they did previously. And it's not consistent. It's not like Plumber just reversed everything. That would be logical and I'd get used to it in a day. But no--he had to go and be creative. Every set of faucets is directionally unique and it's frustrating!

Darrin says I'll get used to it.

Darrin says it's not a problem--you're just turning the water on and off.

Darrin says he could probably change it back to the way it was, but maybe that's the only way Plumber and Friends were able to stop the leaks in the bathroom and then we'd be right back where we started from.

Darrin says, if I'd like him to, he'll quit his job so he cans stay home and be the person who turns the water on and off for me when ever I need it. That way I can stop shrieking and cursing poor Plumber.

Sometimes Darrin is a bit beastly.


When Adam was very young we recognized that he was a creature of habit. He became agitated if things were not in a certain order or if something that was normally in one place was moved to another. When he was about two years old his collection of Duplos had grown enough that it needed a larger container, so I switched the Duplos into a container more accommodating to their number and placed it on the toy shelf.

Later that day, Adam decided to build something. I heard a whimper come from his bedroom and went to investigate. He was standing in front of the toy shelf looking unhappy. The whimper increased to a howl, at which point he sat on the floor and wept. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I asked Adam what was bothering him. He ignored me. I placed toy after toy in front of him, hoping for distraction. When I picked up the Duplo bucket Adam's weeping became a full-blown tantrum. Adam never had tantrums.

Not knowing what to do, I cleared a space for Adam and left the room, thinking the tantrum would wear itself out eventually, which it did. About five minutes later Adam appeared at my side, glaring at me. I asked if he wanted a snack. Sullenly, he continued to glare. He mutely followed me through the house. I was cleaning, but I figured if he was quiet, I'd keep going. We went to the kitchen and I began to empty the trash can. As I pulled the overflowing liner from the can, Adam made a very odd noise, ran to me and attempted to pull the bag away from me.

Adam was not a naughty child. He was often in trouble because he climbed and ate everything in sight and believed that Tabitha was his personal belonging, but he didn't make messes and he was generally very compliant. I was at a loss, watching him mutinously pulling at the trash bag I was holding. I decided if he wanted to look at our garbage before I took it out of the house it wasn't really a problem, so I put the bag on the floor and opened it towards him.

He reached inside and dug a tiny bit while I cringed and longed for him to finish so I could wash his hands, then emerged, grinning, holding the former Duplo container. I said, "Is that all you wanted? Let's go wash it and you can play with it." I washed his hands and let him stand next to me on a stool as I washed and dried the container. I handed it to him and he disappeared happily into his bedroom where I could hear him playing with toys and jabbering to himself. I waited about fifteen minutes, then went to check on him.

The new Duplo container sat empty in the corner of the room. The old one, now over flowing with Duplos, was back on the toy shelf. Adam was happy.

He hasn't changed. Now a teen, Adam still has methods and rituals and a certain order in which things must progress. When family members leave for more than a day, Adam becomes stressed. If they're gone more than three days, he he begins calling them every couple of hours to make certain they're okay. His daily routine rarely varies. Each of his shirts has its own day on which it is worn. Piano practice always follows a specific order. The route traveled to and from school each morning never varies.

Darrin blames me. He says he has no similar habits and my neuroticism over the change in faucet direction supports the fact that Adam's quirks are learned or inherited from me. I'm not arguing. I definitely have certain habits that are similar to Adam's. And I'm allowing Darrin his delusion. I'm not pointing out that he has to have his tools stored in a certain order, or that he has to brush his teeth before he can wash his face before bed, or that he sits at the table before every meal and moves his fork from one side of the plate to the other, or that he cannot pass a pot on the stove without stopping to stir it, or that when he's dressing he has to put on his socks before he'll put on his underwear...

Poor Adam. There's no hope for him.


  1. The handles. BIG deal. Fix them. Now.

  2. I think Plumber needs to come back and fix them at no extra cost or have a really good reason (in your mind) why he can't.

    My psychiatrist says that having little routines like you mentioned can help those who struggle with mental illness. It means there's less to think about because some things (like socks before undies) are routine and built in.

    My oldest son counters that by saying that breaking one's routines on occassion is a good way to help delay or prevent dementia.

    As I write this, I wonder: Is it then a choice between poor mental health and dementia? But isn't dementia a mental health issue? I think it's too late in the night for me to be trying to ponder these things.

  3. I think so, too. Unfortunately, I'm a renter and my landlord disagrees. Sigh...

    As for that other stuff--who knows? PTSD is not yet considered mental illness, and Adam has none, so I think we're just creatures of habit. Life requires us to break those habits occasionally--so I'm going to consider that enough of a disruption that I won't have to worry about dementia. :-)