Monday, December 13, 2010

I don’t know the drill

“Oh, I don’t know, whatever you pick out will be great,” my wife Kara said to her mom on the phone, as I waited for her to notice what I’d just done.

“What about you guys? You’re always so hard to shop for,” she said, my shame deepening with each passing moment, my failure nakedly on display but not yet noticed.

Kara finally looked at me and sensed something wasn’t right.

“What?” she asked with her eyes.

“I’ll fix it,” I mouthed. “And I’m sorry.”

Her eyes darted to the home worsening project I’d recently embarked upon. The original idea had been for the project to be of the home improvement variety, but things took a turn south once I started operating power tools.

“Oh, no,” she said.

Our silverware drawer sat on top of the kitchen counter, empty, the mighty wind of my humiliation whistling through the single hole drilled right through the front of it.

I’d been installing Tot-locks on our kitchen cabinets and drawers to make cooking as annoying as possible. That way, we’d have to eat more pizza to survive. The secondary benefit would be that our child would have to find a hobby other than dumping the contents of our kitchen cabinets all over the floor.

To our son Evan, the kitchen had become a giant Advent calendar, with every door hiding a wonderful surprise, a surprise that must be removed, spindled and mutilated as quickly as possible. He’d spent the bulk of the previous day standing next to our open kitchen drawer, gleefully tossing our most prized food preparation documents (takeout menus) into the air.

So I had started working my way around the kitchen, installing locks that would make even the most stubborn adult stop and ask himself, “How badly do I really need a spoon right now?” In our house, yogurt had just become finger food.

The Tot-locks open with a magnetic key that lives on the fridge, so when you’re installing the locking mechanism, you have to drill deep enough into the back of the cabinet or drawer so that only the thinnest sheet of wood would separate the lock from the key. This type of precision should not be expected from a person who finds a toilet to be an impossibly small target.

When the drill bit came roaring through the front of the drawer, right next to the handle, my shame was intensified not only because Kara was talking with her mom, instantly giving my failure a wider audience than I would have preferred, but also because I’d been using the fattest drill bit I could find, the kind you’d expect to see mounted on the front of a vehicle bound for the center of the Earth.

Hopefully, Evan won’t be afflicted with the same sort of mechanical ineptitude that plagues his old man. He’s already showing some promise at accomplishing tasks normally left to adults.

“Babe, why is our cable bill twenty bucks higher this month?” Kara asked recently.

“I have no idea,” I said, then we both looked at Evan, who was holding the cable remote up to his ear like it was a phone. He held out his phone and started dialing it by mashing random buttons.

“Mweh?” he asked when he held the remote back up to his ear.

As it turned out, it’s possible to order a Platinum Package from our cable provider simply by pressing a single button on the remote over and over. In a remarkable coincidence, that button happened to be the largest one on the remote. I wonder how many people have subscribed to HBO using nothing but their butts. Probably less than the number of people who can pinch a fork out of their kitchen drawer without opening it.

You can hide your power tools from Mike Todd at


  1. I love reading your blog because our rugrats are right on schedule with each other!

    We started with the locks under the sink cabinets for the truly dangerous-when-ingested items. Eventually the contents of two deep drawers were living on the counters which prompted two more locks just to keep my sanity while baking. Just recently we added one more drawer to the list - the top drawer that has all the extra knives... yes he could reach in and grab them even though he can't see them.

    We went with the locks that you can open an inch or so and then you have to push down on the plastic piece inside. Works great, slightly annoying when cooking, but no installation disasters. =)

    Luckily we have only had to pay and extra 1.99 on my phone bill for him dialing 411.

  2. Terrific post! Funny, touching, insane, all those good things. Thanks for the regular flow of good reads.

  3. Sheleatha -- Nice to hear from someone else clinging tenuously to sanity! I dig the Tot-locks, 'cause you can flip a switch to turn them off, so you can actually get to your stuff after the baby goes to bed. There's just the slight issue of installation, which can go awry in the hands of the incompetent. Funny about your phone bill! Pretty cool your baby already knows the 411.

    Bleets -- Thank you! You made my day.