Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Duct Tape to the Rescue

Remember how I say that when things are too quiet that it’s not good. Well life has been generally easy, at least what passes for easy in this house, over the last few weeks. The boys have settled into their school routine, hubby has his new job and I have been figuring out how to organize the house around everyone’s new schedule. Things are not smooth but they are not “Holy Cow Batman,” either.

Yesterday was a quiet day, in general. The boys went to school. HSB went to his friends for a hang out and watch Mystery Science Theater, while they jumped on a mini-tramp and heavens knows what else. I actually came early to pick HSB up and saw what they did while the video was playing. His friend has what he terms his “man cave.” Replete with a mini-tramp, computer, games, big screen TV, and of course that all-important comfy couch. They alternated between jumping on the trampoline and just being plain old silly. It was really cute. Not too much interaction between the two of them, but that’s ok, they enjoy the same videos and can relate to each other. Oh yeah, HSB’s friend also has aspergers. The friend’s mom did say that they do have the most interesting conversations about the videos, films, games and what not. They definitely understand each other and are generally on the same wavelength so it’s a nice friendship for HSB.

So home we went after the hangout session. At 17 years old you don’t call it a playdate. I discussed with HSB his chores and how we are running out of clothes. HSB has elected to do laundry in order to earn enough money for the new Nintendo DS 3D. I refused to just buy it for him and felt that if he at least did “value added” chores, he would get some kind of idea how long it takes and what kind of effort it takes in order to buy things. (He did come to the conclusion that it was fine to earn the device in some way, after his short stint with socialist anti-corporate propaganda.) Now granted, he is not supplying his own food, clothing, shelter or basic necessities, but at least it is a beginning. I think that at some point you don’t just give your children things that they don’t need and just want. Earning it in some way, no matter how small, is so much better for them in the long run. Anyway, our latest adventure continues:

So HSB goes to take the laundry to the basement, where the washer and dryer are located. I then hear this…

“Why the hell is the carpet all wet?” (As with most teenage boys, he does like to punctuate his sentences with four-letter words when he is annoyed. No, have no idea where he gets that from at all.)

Remember how I said that it had been a generally quiet period…well not anymore. The carpet in the finished basement was soaked. I heard a high-pitched whistle coming out of the boiler-room and bravely and slowly opened the door. It was like a freaking sauna in there. I immediately ran over to the hot water heater, which is attached to the furnace to see what was going on. The last time that we had a leak in that room, one of the water valves had become undone and needed to be replaced. At that time we ended up having to shut off the entire water supply to the house, which is not how you want to live (see Snowicane and its aftermath).

I knew enough his time though, to call the oil company, which handles the hot water heater/furnace and got someone on the phone right away. (Last time an event like this occurred with the furnace/waterheater I was hysterically calling the plumber trying to get him on the phone to help. It took hours until he called back and told me in this area the oil companies handle these types of issues). Meanwhile, the customer service representative was trying to get me to turn off the nozzle that filtered the water into the system. Now if I told you that I had no idea which nozzle it was would you believe me? There must have been 6 nozzles attached to the system, never mind the main water pipes that runs into the house. Of course, the main water valves are in an entirely different room, and I absolutely have no idea which handle the main one is, there are also about 6 nozzles attached to the main water line.  She tried to help me figure which nozzle to turn off, giving me explanations as to how to think it through and what to look for. The only problem is that the configurations she was talking about did not fit with my system. She was being really kind and patient for a really long time, well at least it seemed like a long time, but I am sure this entire episode lasted less then ten minutes. I think she lost her patience though, when she asked me if my husband was home and did he know which nozzle it was.

Honestly with that one I had to laugh. Even though hubby is very handy around he house and can build a murphy bed out of scratch, he has absolutely no idea about the plumbing, electric or how the house generally works. If a fuse is blown, I get to figure it out. I wasn’t insulted by the customer service rep, I just thought it was funny how in a moment of uncertainty the world still falls back on old stereotypes of the man being the knower-of-all-things considered “manly.”

In the meantime, I had been looking for the leak; it was not coming from a pipe, or from a valve so it had to be coming from either the furnace or the waterheater itself. Lo and behold I found it, a tiny little crack had developed at the sealed portion of the frame and water was spewing all over my boiler room. I actually put my finger over the hole and the water stopped coming out so I also knew that there was only one leak. At that moment I really felt like the Little Dutch Boy. Now here’s the thing, I remember yelling about needing to cover up the hole and stop the water or at least slow it down a bit until I could turn off the right valve. Suddenly, there was HSB with a huge roll of duct tape in his hands.

“Your welcome,” he said with a little smirk, knowing he had read my mind and knowing that he knew what needed to be done.

“Thank you,” I replied, thinking to myself, smartass. Then I actually thought, smart quick thinking boy who knew exactly what to get me in order to help out. Analyzing, figuring, reading the situation and knowing how to resolve the issue, take that autism spectrum disorder and the inability to extrapolate situations. We beat your ass but good!

Needless to say I quickly covered up the leak with more duct tape than you could imagine, which let me calmly find the right valve. I was able to turn off the water pipe leading into the hotwater heater, but was able to keep the water flow to the house going. Which is so much better than another stint at camping in the middle of the winter. You see our heating system is a water based heating system. The furnace heats the water, which flows through the baseboards to heat the house, without the water flowing through the pipes it would be really cold. Don’t ask me how it works without the hotwater heater, but it does and I am not going to question how all of it fits together. I figured out how to shut off the right valve which is really enough for me right now. But what I also get to do is to put everything I was doing on hold, until a new waterheater shows up. I need to call the company this morning.

Now when all is said and done there is something that I have grown to notice about the boys. As they have matured, they have developed the ability to deal with the unexpected and to handle the basic ups and downs in life. This is a very important lesson that anyone needs to learn and very hard for those on the autism spectrum to wrap their minds around. One hiccup at times to their schedules and their world would fall apart. Collegeman used to say that he just couldn’t handle “curve balls.” But handle them he does now and so does HSB. With HSB figuring out how to help without being asked and collegeman not getting phased by the excitement, I think it was a truly successful event. Ok in the long run a very expensive event for the household, but for the boys an even bigger positive moment in growth.

You see right after the valve got shut off, the hole covered up; the boys went about the rest of their evening without any issues. There was dinner, some quick, cold showers, hanging out watching TV, waiting for the waterheater repairman to show up (yes we need anew one) and HSB actually taking the directions for the new wet/dry vac, putting it together so hubby could vacuum up the water in the carpets and in the boilerroom.  Nothing changed in the house atmosphere (once I calmed down because I finally got the water turned off); no meltdowns, no freak-outs, and no seizures from anxiety and stress, (it’s great when you are the one who is most overwrought). It became a typical family scene of just “oh, ok, something new to handle”…no big deal…yeah no big deal to some…

Until next time,