Remember how, a few articles ago, I talked about our washer? Well, I never finished telling you part one — and now, there is a part two so I better fill you in from the beginning:

Our stalwart machine rattled more than she should have, was missing a few knobs, started with a paperclip and needed to be treated with a lot of TLC. She served us right up until she made a horrendous banging, clanging noise that told us her days were numbered. Like people who have lost the cushy cartilage between joints keeping the bones from grinding on each other, her springy connectors were wore out and the steel tub began to bang against the steel drum.

We searched for new parts (because my husband is a whiz at all things mechanical) only to discover that the manufacturers make you purchase the entire drum to the tune of $701. Uh, no thank you. So, we looked at new ones, found our exact machine (only 13 years younger!) and decided I would pick it up posthaste.

The next day rolled around and, as I discovered at the store the last one in stock had just sold and there were none to be had in the State of Michigan, my husband was simultaneously discovering (the hard way) that the boys had swapped out the wheels on the two-wheel dolly — the good metal ones for plastic ones. 

I called him with an SOS, saying, “Honey, don’t take out the old washer, we have to wait for two weeks for a new one.”

Silence. 

“Well, it’s a little late now. I just dropped it. The kids changed out the wheels and the plastic ones broke before I realized it. I lost grip and busted out all the shocks.”

Let the blame game begin. I should have went directly to the store first thing in the morning. He should have waited to move the other one until I was pulling in the driveway. I should have called ahead. He should have checked the wheels ... etc., etc., etc. Clearer heads prevailed and we stopped almost as fast as we started. It was really no one’s fault, just a happenstance.

A long two and a half weeks later, we got our new girl and used it faithfully for three weeks until we discovered the hard way it blew an internal connection — this was indicated by a flood in our laundry room and downstairs. It was chaos, water dripping everywhere. I felt like a soaked rat trying to clean up the standing water and later that afternoon discovered I even lost an earring in the process.

So, dear reader, what does this all have to do with parenting? Well, in the midst of chaos, we still have to do the hard work of teaching our kids how to react to stressful situations. During the initial blame game scenario, my 17-year-old was in the car listening to my end of the conversation. He was learning how to handle curveballs and I could have taught him to blame someone else or to accept the miss and move on.

The kids see us either adapting or bickering. We can let a crazy situation bring us closer and make a humorous family story out of it or let it be an uncomfortable place to live for a while when your parents are arguing all the time.

We lose our cool, that is a guarantee. How we react is key. I never stop being an example to my kids. If I yell, am short and blame others, that is how the kids learn to tackle a stressful situation. If I lose it, then pick myself back up and deal with it, maybe even getting a few laughs out of it, then the lesson is life throws curveballs and you better be flexible.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.