These days I feel like the character Fix-it Felix Jr. from the movie Wreck-it Ralph. If you’ve never seen it, there are two main characters: Wreck-it destroys things (aka my two year old son), and Fix-it Felix Jr. (that would be me) runs around after him fixing his destruction. Either they don’t make toys like they used to, or two year old boys are just REALLY hard on toys. I swear I’m coming across a freshly broken toy every day! But do I throw them out? Oh no, not me!
If I am Fix it Felix Jr, then I learned my fixing skills (and my stubbornness to fix things and not throw them out) from Fix it Felix Sr. My father, Michael Wilson, was the king of fixing things. He had a basement workbench in his ‘office’ with tools, glue, clamps and duct tape. He was awfully fond of Canadian comedian Red Green, we’ll put it that way.
From him, I learned all about how to fix things. Like what glues worked best on what materials, and tricks that made them work better. How to drill holes and put holding screws in. What kinds of tapes to use where, and what direction to put them on to make them last. As I write this I’m pretty sure there are very few other females in their 30’s who ever got the opportunity (or even cared) to learn these things. No wonder they would rather throw out a broken toy!
Of course, my husband and I tried to make it clear to family that we really weren’t interested in many toys at all, especially cheap breakable ones. But the hand-me-downs, holiday gifts and dollar store toys have crept into our lives none the less. Here is a recent example of a Fix-it Felix moment:
My son broke the magnetic tip off the pen that goes with his magnet writing board. We use the board for waste-free writing and drawing and it is useless without the pen so I decided to try and fix it. It is plastic – notoriously not an easy material to glue back together. I checked my small selection of adhesives I keep in the pantry, and tried some clear automotive repair glue. Worked like a charm. Heck while I had it out I fixed a couple of other plastic things around the house I noticed had broken.
My husband and I have also glued wooden toys back together (that reminds me there is a wooden semi-truck that needs our attention…), taped up books, and yes thrown out the odd toy beyond repair.
All this has definitely given me pause – I now think even more carefully about gifts I give to other parents and what we buy for our own family. A gift of breakable junk is no gift at all!