What Doesn’t Kill You Might Make You Insane

I called my mother a few hours ago.

I knew she could offer me no assistance being that she lives out-of-state, but I needed her to answer one question and I needed some sort of perspective if possible.

Right after she picked up the phone I blurted out…

“Is it worse to have a smoldering pumpkin fire in your house and get soot everywhere or is it worse to have a flood?”

Then came her inhale and exhale.  As if I didn’t already know it, I knew I was screwed.

As a child, my mom always put our cut pumpkins in the first floor front windows of our house on Halloween night with candles inside. One year, a candle had fallen over in a pumpkin but not been extinguished. Over the course of many hours it had slowly burned the inside of the pumpkin spreading very fine soot throughout the entire house. EVERYTHING and EVERY surface was covered with soot. It happened so slowly that no one smelled anything and no one had noticed until it was too late. Really, too late.

Insurance agents were called, adjusters arrived, drapes, furniture and rugs were hauled off and the whole house got a professional cleaning. Life went on, we eventually laughed about it and the pumpkins were relegated to the front step after that.

Today I got initiated into crisis management. I survived to write about and so did Cooper.

I knew today, like all Wednesdays, was going to be chaotic. Collect Cooper at school, get snack, go to gym to bike a zillion miles and run the treadmill in training for a 30 mile bike race in NYC in a few weeks, head to Costco for the items I had forgotten to pick up on my morning trip, fetch Tucker after Chess, home at 4:45 for quick snack and change into baseball gear, off to baseball at 5:15, home at 6:40, baths, dinner, homework and then upstairs around 8pm for brushing teeth and reading books. Whew! All I wanted after I got them in bed was a shower and a glass of wine. Was that so much to ask?


I walked into Cooper’s room as he was pushing water out of his bathroom with a bath towel. In fact, I didn’t even see the water first. I just thought he was goofing off and “cleaning his floor”.  But one look at the bathroom, floor and carpet changed my perspective and mood very quickly.

Somewhere between 4:45 and 5:15, Cooper did what he’s done before… played in his sink with his hand towel. What exactly happened is only between he and god. I quite frankly don’t even really want to know anymore.

He flooded his sink, into the cabinet, onto the tile floor and into his room soaking the carpet and padding.  The baseboards in his room are wet, the sub-floor surrounding the bathroom is wet, his closet carpet and padding are wet as are the baseboards. Then there is the continuation of the flood into Paul’s office below. Water soaked ceiling and water dripping through the coffered wood beams in the ceiling. God only knows how much water is living between the floor and the ceiling.

I really don’t want to know that either.

After a quick call to Paul to inform him of the brilliant activity his youngest off-spring had engaged in, I decided I had yelled enough and was concerned I might have a stroke. I told Cooper I had heard enough crying and sent he and his brother out of the room.

I began to rip up the carpets and asses the extent of the water and swore like a truck driver for which I will not be apologizing for.    

Then I called my AWESOME neighbors who were at my door faster than I could say THANK YOU!

We moved furniture, ripped back carpet, tore out rug padding and used every towel we could find to soak up the water. We placed drop cloths down with buckets in Paul’s office and moved his furniture out-of-the-way.


Thanks to Linda from our insurance company who assisted us tonight and began the process to remedy our most recent crisis. I told her we’d be fine until tomorrow unless the ceiling crashed in the middle of the night, in which case, I would probably need her assistance again and I chuckled.

Since I could no longer speak without an uncontrolled desire to scream like a psycho mom, Mr. level-head Paul had to sweep in and manage one from hundreds of miles away. So, thanks to Paul for talking to Cooper on speakerphone and explaining why this was all SO WRONG and NEVER TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

I still think that a smoldering pumpkin fire in your house is worse than this, but my mom disagrees. Maybe I’m in denial.

After I finally got the mess cleaned up, wrapped up a conference call with Paul and the insurance company, tucked the boys in bed and locked Cooper’s bathroom door, Cooper looked around his disaster of a room. He shook his head and said, “I don’t like my room, I don’t want it like this! I want a new room!” I stood silent for what felt like a lifetime just staring at him.

“Yeah.  Trust me, I don’t like any of this either but I love you. Stay in bed, don’t touch anything and I’ll see you in the morning.” 

What doesn’t kill you might make you insane.

11 thoughts on “What Doesn’t Kill You Might Make You Insane

    • Actually, no tears. I was sort of numb from the anger and shock. I enjoyed a glass of red wine in bed around midnight after checking the water buckets for the last time.

  1. I applaud your restraint. I think I would have run away from home. Kids are all a handful from time to time and they challenge us when we least expect it and they don’t realize what they are doing. I hope you have a much better day today.

  2. I am soooooo sorry you had to deal with this yesterday! I have been debating if we should do wine or margaritas on Saturday…….Drew’s special margaritas it is:)I think we are both deserving of it and it has been too long since we had a drink(s) together.

  3. That’s horrible, reminds me of the time my oven door was used as a step stool…..One day the whole thing just fell off!!!! I hope the repairs are done quickly;)

  4. Know how you feel, I remember the “rain” in my kitchen the night James decided to leave the shower curtain outside the tub. It wasn’t hours like yours but I still relive it in my mind. Hang in there

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