Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Flat Pack

with 12 comments

A marriage has to deal with many challenges.  Couples who live an expat life away from their support systems have larger difficulties to face.  And special needs parents?  I’m sure you’ve read the scary statistics by now.  These things, however, pale into comparison with the largest threat to my marriage: flat pack furniture.  All the problems converge in one messy Sunday afternoon.  And the worst of it is, it is usually my fault.  Just don’t tell the husband that.

I hate flat pack furniture.  Yet somehow, wherever in the world we live, I’ll suddenly find a need for, say, a desk.  The next thing I know, we’re flat packing.  In an ideal world, of course, we’d be buying expensive hand-crafted well-made furniture.  But here we are, lining the pockets of Swedish stockholders.  Somehow, I forget what a threat this stuff is, and I go ahead and purchase it.  If I thought about it, I’d recognize that the computer/TV/clothes can go on the floor, and that would be a whole lot easier.

So, yes, my fault.  We needed something to put the TV on.  While our house is furnished by the US Government (thank you, Uncle Sam) they didn’t provide something for the TV, and we didn’t bring one.  We found one we could afford, forgetting the fact that we pay the price in other ways.  After getting Cubby to take a nap, and providing a tactile activity to occupy Pudding, Spectrummy Daddy got to work…and there is our first problem.

Rambo with a drill.

You see, in our marriage, we don’t go it alone.  We share our problems or difficulties and find a way to work through them together.  But flat pack furniture comes into the house, and the husband goes all Rambo.  He makes it clear he is working alone.  Sigh.  I busy myself as I hear a fair amount of groaning and cursing.  At some point, he will go to get an electric drill, and this is when I transform into the unhelpful nagging wife.  There shouldn’t be any need for a drill, I think.  I’ll go and pester him to find out what is going on.

What the heck is this? And why is it left over?

I’ll find Rambo at the scene of a massacre.  There are dowels, screws, and those things that I don’t know the name of, but are the bane of my furniture fixing life.  Bits of wood everywhere.  At this point, Rambo has given up on the instructions.  He has given up on the suggested tools, and is looking for something like “wood nails” or “drill bits.”  Eek.  I decide he needs help.

Here is problem #2.  There is a decidedly male/female division as to the notion of helping.  For him, it would be bringing a cool beverage and keeping everyone (including me) far away.  Instead, I like to say things like, “This just doesn’t look right”  and, “You shouldn’t have done that.”  There will be more swearing.  I’ll go to the discarded instruction manual and try to make sense of it.  The problem is, I’m just not  a visual thinker.  In order to flog these things to as many gullible souls as the flat pack empire stretches, they use pictures instead of words.  Worse than that, they are 3D.  I don’t do dimensions.

Eventually, I’ll decide to just do whatever I’m told.  We’ll try to put a piece on, and it will jut out, or just not line up.  Rambo will kick at something, and I’ll be glad we don’t have a pet.  We’ll take the whole thing apart and start again.  One of us will question the decision to go through this again, and wonder whose fault it is this time.  I’ll keep quiet about the fact that it is my fault, even though we both know my silence speaks volumes.

Cubby wakes up from his nap.  Not content to just add his own whines and shrieks to the mix, he has to find the most annoying toy we own, and

caterpillar cacophany

bring it right there next to Rambo’s exploding head.  This time it was a game I call The Very Annoying Caterpillar.  I bought it because it game with tongs for practicing fine motor skills, but both kids just like to press the button to make the stupid thing dance to the most irritating carnival muzak, and place the little balls in every corner of every room in the house.  And outdoors too, for good measure.  If I attempt to turn the thing off, or take it away, he will add screaming to the cacophony.

I’ll go to make dinner, pretending not to notice the sigh of relief as I leave the room.  I must leave him with sound advice, however, because upon my return the construction is going much better.  Eventually the whole thing will be finished, and I’ll stifle the urge to ask about the leftover screws, preferring to let the worry of them fester in my too-full brain.  Rambo will leave, and a mild-mannered diplomat will take his place.  An unsupervised Pudding has made her way into the games cupboard, and emptied it off its contents.  Because it is all too fresh, I’ll think twice before voicing my desire to have a piece of furniture to store that stuff properly.

In the end, we have a new TV stand.  And a marriage still in tact.  Which is just as well, because I wouldn’t want any of this furniture in the divorce settlement.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm

12 Responses

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  1. This is basically how it goes in my house, except I normally have to say “but your bleeding on the carpet!” with a box of Spiderman Band-Aids in my hand.

  2. Flat-pack furniture has two options: more parts than you need, or less.

    Which would you prefer?


    October 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm

  3. Hilarious read! It’s been a long time since I last put together a flat-pack piece of furniture. Thank goodness…

    Nigel Windsor

    October 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

  4. Like your husband I adopt a curse first, solve problems later attitude. When I curse, my wife, concerned there’s a problem, immediately asks what the problem is. This only frustrates me more. I mumble a response which makes her ask “What?” then I curse at HER. Then I solve the problem and say something like. . . “Okay, I see how they want me to do that.”


    Jim W.

    October 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  5. Haha, laughed that you got three comments from ‘guys’!!! 🙂
    What a good hubby you have… mine wouldn’t have done it!!


    October 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

  6. This did make me laugh – and all so true!! Why is it us ladies can’t help but offer ‘help’ – and why are themen always too proud to listen first and make mistakes second??!! 😉


    October 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm

  7. This is why we will pay for people to put together things for us. And even then we’ll still find a mystery washer/screw/handle that has no home.


    October 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  8. And this is why we will pay people to put together our stuff as much as possible. Let’s not discuss the great TV hanging of 2010, shall we?


    October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  9. I recognize that caterpillar!! I bought it for the exact same reason and my son does exactly what your kids do! I actually tried playing it with him and it’s not easy to put those marbles on there with it wiggling around. As for that furniture, I think it always comes with some extra pieces because they KNOW something will go wrong in assembly. Made me a little nervous that he actually took out a drill for it (lol!) but looks like you got through it okay! 🙂


    October 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm

  10. Oh I laughed my head off at this! You are so funny!
    I have to sy though th at my husband is really great at this kinda of thing but he is a bit too aspie in the way that he lines up the screws, devours the instruction manual over a cup of coffee and then methodically follows every step to the letter!
    But I admit that he is very gifted with his hands.
    Glad your marriage survived! Lol

    Fi (Wonderfully Wired Mum)

    October 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm

  11. I LOVE flat packs, they are like giant jigsaw puzzles for me. Love and hugs. xx 🙂


    October 19, 2011 at 12:01 am

  12. […] left us an incredible legacy.  Just as we’re settling in to our new home, our marriage faces its toughest challenge yet.  I raised some awareness for […]

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