When I was younger, my dad made sure I knew how to do certain things around the house — hammer a nail properly, use general household tools, measure twice, cut once, that kind of thing. I’ve always been glad I knew how to do that kind of stuff (and other useful things, like change the oil in my car, or change a tire on my own) but I’m not really that good at being “handy” around my own house. It’s easy to be intimidated by household fix-it projects — I’m usually worried I’m going to make the problem worse or electrocute myself, so I generally avoid doing anything more complex than changing light bulbs, flipping fuse switches and cleaning the lint filter in the dryer.
Dan is just as bad (maybe worse). In our lives together, he has broken a doorknob (which nearly prevented us from being able to leave the house), broke a faucet (actually cracked part of it off), tried to fix a slow sink and succeeded in backing it up and nearly overflowing it, and once shattered the top of a toilet tank. Years ago I barred him from doing any type of home repair after dinner time — most of his repair disasters were prefaced by the phrase, “I’ll just take care of this before we go to bed”.
We generally leave things to the professionals. (Or to our parents, but they aren’t around right now.)
We have radiators for heat here, which is new to me — I’ve always had forced-air heating (except for freshman year of college, and it isn’t like I was doing any radiator repairs at Sweet Briar). The radiators in the boys’ rooms haven’t been working well. We thought that they just weren’t getting as hot as the others, until it got really cold this week — they aren’t really working at all. Last night, it was frigid in Benjamin’s room. I got up about 18 times (no kidding) for him last night to help him fix his blankets on his bed. Poor guy was cold. (I offered to let him come sleep with Dan & I, but he wasn’t interested.)
Getting things fixed here is harder than at home. Typically, the people we have in to do our home repairs don’t speak English, and I don’t speak enough German to know plumbing or heating terms. It’s also Saturday, so it would be difficult (and expensive) to try and find someone to come out.
I know nothing about radiators, but I was hoping maybe it would be something simple — like they had been turned off, so I did some Google searches, and we also emailed our landlord to see if he had any answers. We ended up deciding that they probably had too much air in them. Well, I fixed it. All by myself! I let the air out of the radiators (and only got a little bit of water on the floor).
For those who are good at this kind of thing, this probably seems like nothing. But for me, it’s a pretty big deal. Not only did I successfully execute a home repair, with just the help of Google, but my kids are warm in their rooms tonight. I feel great.