Temper, temper: Glass panes break punching bags don't


April 03, 1993|By ROB KASPER

Recently, I tried to teach my kids how to repair broken window glass and how to control tempers.

These are recurring problems in our household.

While we are very solid on the theory of how to handle these difficulties, we are somewhat shaky when it comes to putting theory into practice.

For instance, the first replacement glass we bought for the broken window did not fit. It was too short. As for controlling our emotions, my kids have learned that the same man who lectures them on the importance of restraint turns into a furniture-pounding fanatic when he watches his favorite college basketball team play.

"The Kansas game is on television," the 12-year-old warned his 8-year-old brother last weekend. "That means there's going to be shouting."

The broken window was not temper-related. It was skateboard-related.

In the account I was given, a skateboard inexplicably shot out from under its rider and smashed a pane of glass in the kitchen door.

While there was some sense of repentance in the air, it was quickly overwhelmed by an account of broken window statistics.

The kids reported that in two years, windows had been shattered by a baseball, a soccer ball, a lacrosse ball and a ball made of plastic.

While a skateboard had been credited with some wrongdoing -- punching a hole in a kitchen wall -- this was the first time it had broken a window. A whole new category of household damage had been opened.

The day we got around to fixing the broken glass was also the day that an important basketball game was on television. Experience has taught me that replacing window glass and watching college basketball games are activities that should not overlap. I began working on broken glass hours before the game began.

Thinking this was a "teaching opportunity," I got the 8-year-old to help me measure the space the glass would go in. Wooden molding strips had held the glass in place. Instead of removing them and measuring the distance from the top to the bottom of the frame, I took a shortcut.

I stuck the tip of my measuring tape in between the molding strips, in the crease where the glass would go, and measured the height of the space. It turned out I was almost right. But in replacing window glass, almost isn't good enough.

After my son and I had gone to the hardware store, bought a piece of glass and had it cut, we found out it was about an eighth of an inch too short. I tried to cover my mistake by resting the glass on "a pillow" of glazing compound that I put around the edge of the frame. But that didn't work. With the pillow in it, the frame was too fat and the molding wouldn't fit.

Invoking my "wise-parent" tone, I told the 8-year-old that a repairman should be proud of his work, and in this case, I was not. I had to admit my mistake and go buy a new piece of glass.

The kid was not impressed. This would not have happened, he told me, if the space had been measured correctly, with the molding removed.

Using a knife blade, I pried off the molding, took the measurements and got the correct glass. Then I set the new glass in the frame, snapped the molding back around the glass, and nailed it down.

Later, the kid and I worked on fixing his "punching bag." It was not really a bag. Using some foam trays, the kind that ground beef comes in, and some empty toilet tissue spools, the kid had created a face that he called a punching bag.

He wanted to hang this bag from the basement ceiling. On the theory that it was better for the kids to sock a bag than clobber each other, I helped hang the bag from a water pipe.

Feeling that this was another chance for a parental "teaching opportunity," I tried to show the kid a few boxing tips. As I punched the bag with my right hand, I protected my face with my left hand. "Always keep your left up," I told him.

Again, the kid was not impressed. He didn't have to keep up his left, he said, because this bag couldn't hit back.

I liked his approach to letting off steam. This is a big, big weekend for college basketball. The semifinal games are on television tonight, and the championship game is Monday night.

If things don't go the way they should, I may go down to the basement and punch those pieces of foam. And if that doesn't work, I'm told breaking glass is therapeutic. And I just happen to have an extra piece.

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