Old homes and young children don’t always go together. Old homes are patient knowing that as long as someone lives in them they will be maintained. Repairs may be put off but ultimately they get done. Children are not as patient.
Our kids love our sprawling century house and the ability to run up the front stairs and down the back stairs. But it’s hard for them to understand and to adapt with the problems that come when a repair is needed. A recent problem with an upstairs bathroom demonstrates my point.
The cast iron drainpipe from the upstairs toilet had been leaking for a while and I knew it. It showed itself initially in pinpoint stain along a crack of the ceiling of our living room. It continued to grow and then some of the plaster started to crack. In spite of these harbingers of major problems I decided to let it go. The kids would even ask when I would fix the ceiling. I told them soon but had no idea when soon would come around.
One day I decided to look into the problem more and picked away at the plaster. That resulted in a large hole clearly showing me where the water was coming. I was somewhat relieved that the leak was not major and I could put it off a little while longer until I could find the right time to devote to fixing this problem.
I should note here that I regularly have to pester my kids to do their homework and not put off doing it until late at night. I am always wondering where they get this proclivity to procrastination. It’s in situations like this home repair that I realize it’s genetic and learned.
In any event it didn’t take long for the small leak to turn into a much larger leak and could be called a gusher of sorts. Whenever the toilet flushed water would pour into the living room. The first couple times the kids thought this was funny. Needless to say I wasn’t as excited about this turn of events. This was when I issued the order that the bathroom was shut down.
I turned off the water and made a plan to fix the leak. At the same time I had a leak in the dining room from a place where flashing needed to be fixed on the roof, which seemed to me to more pressing issue since the weather was changing and it was going to get colder.
To keep this story going I did not get around to fixing the toilet leak. The kids were patient for a little while and then they started to wake up in the night and not go to the right bathroom. I didn’t notice right away but soon there was a smell coming from the bathroom. They would use the toilet and not flush or sometimes they would flush and the next morning I would have a wet spot on the living room rug.
Ultimately the solution was found in duck tape. The seat of the toilet was tape shut with duct tape and my kids are still waiting for the return of their bathroom. The house knows it will get done; I know it will get done; and the kids have a sense that something will get done. Maybe.