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An effective punishment -- for my partner

(66 Posts)
TheMidnightHour Sun 06-Jan-13 22:34:39

Perhaps I'm being unreasonable (go ahead and say so if I am) or maybe he's unusually clumsy, but my partner seems to manage to break, damage or ruin a surprisingly large number of my precioussssssss things. Most things I'm fairly laid back about (he can smash all the glassware he likes), but there are a few things I'd like to keep nice (souvenir tea towel first ever use to wipe out half-washed fry-up pan). Or functioning (saved-for knitting needle set sat on and snapped). Or intact (my sanity, severely frayed by events I'm about to relate).

Today, ferinstance, I was blocking a lace shawl (for those who don't knit, this represents perhaps a hundred hours work and blocking is the very last stage of making it beautiful. Imagine a delicate cashemere sweater if that helps you wince properly in a minute) and asked for a little help. In a cock up of slapstick proportions, he managed to drag an angry cat across the lace.

So the shawl is in time out, as I'm not sure it can be fixed without undoing and redoing a quarter of it (so, 25 hours work to redo, plus the border, plus careful undoing of at least another couple hours) and I'm not going to bed as I'm still mad at him.

The thing that bugs me about this is that he screws up, says 'Oops, I'm sorry, it was an accident' and gets to wander off while I fix it. Honestly, I really want to throw it in his face (it's got about 50 dressmaker's pins in it at the moment, if I was feeling kinder I'd take those out first) and scream. And maybe smash a few of his preciousssssssssss things for a change.

But that doesn't seem very reasonable. Still, the idea of some sort of punishment is awfully tempting - I'd love to be able to drive home exactly how pissed off and upset I am without actually screaming loud enough to wake the rest of the household up. And ideally without resorting to the pettier thoughts going through my mind, like dragging an angry cat across him, to see how he likes it...

Any help??

bubbles1231 Mon 07-Jan-13 16:54:45

It's easy to look at this retrospectively.
You have a clumsy husband. He always will be, so you have to engineer the environment to try and deal with it- a bit like having a toddler.
I'm a knitter too and there's no way I would let Dh help block a shawl (and he's really careful) I'd ask a fellow knitter.
Never, ever have a cat around when laying out any knitting. Make sure all doors are shut before starting.
Don't leave stuff lying around that you don't want broken. We do this when DC have friends round who break stuff are a bit clumsy.
I'm guessing that some of the anger is not just directed at your husband but also at yourself, as you know some of it may have been avoided.
Chin up, move on but always be alert!!

Lueji Mon 07-Jan-13 17:01:51

Ah, yes, bubbles.

I had a children's party at home for DS's birthday.

Did I leave important, fragile items around? No. They went in the wardrobe and came out when the children were gone.
Accidents? None. smile

knitknack Mon 07-Jan-13 17:07:11

oh my gosh, I'm a knitter and I do occasionally find the time/commitment for lace and... oh my gosh, I just can't imagine!! Blimey. An angry cat you say? I think I'd want to kill them both...

Lueji Mon 07-Jan-13 17:08:34

Surely the cat didn't realise how precious the item was.

The idiot who let a cat anywhere near the precious item, on the other hand...

AlexanderS Mon 07-Jan-13 21:29:39

My DP is exactly like this. I once dumped a load of his clothes out on the patio after it had been raining to teach him a lesson but I don't think I went far enough - clothes can be washed. I'm thinking about leaving other things of his out there, starting with small things of little value - books etc. - and then if he doesn't get his act together working my way up to big-ticket items, like his amplifer...

AlexanderS Mon 07-Jan-13 21:30:36

Sorry, amplifier.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 07-Jan-13 22:00:01

Not sure why some people want to punish others for being clumsy, a trait which is unintentional! Sounds a bit bunny boilerish to me.

Whatever next! Punish people for being forgetful? For not being good at maths? Crazy and nasty!

PurplePidjin Mon 07-Jan-13 23:10:45

I wouldn't punish someone for being clumsy if they were apologetic and made attempts to both rectify the situation and not let it happen again.

Wrecking my stuff then not giving a shit, otoh...

TheMidnightHour Tue 08-Jan-13 19:07:38

This has gathered rather more comments than I ever expected, and I appreciate being able to let off steam. However, I was angry when I posted the OP so I don't really want it being taken as the sum total of our relationship, but I also realize it's all you've got to go on. So perhaps I should clear up a few things (or add fuel to the fires, who knows).

Punishing DP - I don't actually do this. It's just tempting sometimes. And talking about it is certainly cathartic.

Husband - we're not married. Been together nearly a decade, not actually married.

Knitting in public - I really don't see a problem with this, and am kind of surprised that others do. I knit the entire shawl in the presence of DP, cat, relatives, strangers on bus, etc with no ill effects. I wouldn't knit at all if I had to do it alone - no time!

Hiding All The Precious Things - my DP is an adult, and can do things like boil a kettle, drive a car, hold a baby safely so I don't really think I should need to hide every single thing I don't want broken. It's also not terribly practical - at least not for things one uses, and my preciousssss breakable things are things I have to use (or at least see) to enjoy. And if I'm not enjoying them, what's the point of having them?

You Should Have Known... - Again, I don't really see how. I'm not saying it was shark-attack-while-being-struck-by-lightning unlikely, but the combination of circumstances was unlikely (which is why I call it an accident, although I do believe DP cocked up as well) and (believe it or not) I had controlled for the major hazards.

And for the curious, here's a blow-by-blow account, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I admit. Also very long.

Picture the scene: a woman, 30ish, scruffy, opens the door to a cluttered bedroom. The two single beds have been stripped, pushed together and covered with towels. A lace shawl (a differrent lace shawl) is blocking: stretched to its full size and pinned out with a whole lot of steel dressmakers pins it looks more like a dead butterfly or a torture device than something to wear.

The woman approaches the bed and pats the shawl. "Oh, my preciousssss, you're dry. At last!" she cackles, "now all the guests have left and the last of the Christmas knitting is done, I can finally block -- my shawl!" She produces a crumpled bundle of yarn and flourishes it triumphantly. "For me, yessssss, all for me, my precioussssss, made of precioussssssssss yarn. Which I may have spent more than I should on. But! So what? Soon it will be beautiful." An observer at this moment might have doubted her sanity: the knitting (if knitting it is) looks like tangled string, or a particularly large clump of wet hair, if hair came out of the shower drain in that unlikely shade of blue.

Setting the hairball to one side, she pulls the pins out of the dead butterfly, folds it and sets it on top of a bookcase. Returning to work, she adjusts the towels and spreads the bundle of wet hair out on the bed. Now its spread out, it does look more pleasant - and is also clearly too long for the bed. The woman mutters to herself as she finds a sensible way to pin the thing out. Eventually she settles and starts sticking pins in the picot edging.

After about 40 pins, she realizes that she'll have to pin every single picot to get it to block properly, putting a pin in at centimeter intervals for roughly 4-6 meters of edging, and she despairs slightly. However! Help is at hand. She goes to the door.

"Darling?" she croons in her sweetest tones. "Could you help me with something?" A man appears at the door, 30ish, less scruffy.

"Is it a knitting thing?" he asks.
"Why yes, my sweet," she trills. "Could you possibly help me stick a few hundred pins into a towel?"
"And then we can watch Die Hard 2?"
"Of course, my hero, light of my life and helper of the pin-weary."
"Deal."

The couple return to the bed and begin sticking pins into the bed. At this point, the cat of the house decides this is a good time to come out of hiding. She's not supposed to be in here, but she sees a chance to waft her tail under the man's nose. He is what the humans call 'allergic' and she calls 'hilarious' so it's worth giving up her nest for.

The humans are working fairly intently, so it's only when she's sitting on the corner of a towel, reaching a paw out to poke the pins that they spot her.

"Cat!" the humans say together. The female human, who has known the cat for over a decade, says "No! Bad cat!" and moves slowly towards her. The male human who has only lived with the cat for a couple of months* but has already witnessed the destructive power of her claws dives for her and drags her towards him. The cat, surprised and enraged by this cavalier treatment digs her claws into whatever she can reach, pulling the towel, lace shawl, pins and all with her.

The woman shouts "No!" and puts her hands out, uselessly. The cat struggles free and hides under the bed. The man looks at the tangled heap of towels.

"I was just trying to help," he says
"I don't think, strictly speaking, that was an improvement," replies the woman as she gently untangles the mess. As she puts the towels back into place, she notices claw marks in the fabric. "Oh well, old towel, that's fine," she says, smoothing the first corner back out, she puts the pins back, until ---
oh no!
can it be!
say it ain't so!
a hole she did not knit!
a dropped stitch!

She stoops closer. Here and here and here - a cat claw has neatly severed a few key strands, and her work is unraveling before her eyes. She quickly secures it with a forest of pins, then rests her head on the edge of the bed.

"Is it alright?" asks the man.
"No. It's really, really not," she replies.

She studies it again while he-- actually, I have no idea what he did at this point.

"Can you fix it?" he asks.
"I don't think so," she says. She flops onto the floor like a cat who doesn't want to be picked up. "For technical reasons, it can't be fixed because technical the technical. I'm going to have to undo it. It's probably 25 hours work to fix it." She stares at the ceiling, wanting to scream. She would usually yell, but this seems at once too serious and not serious enough. After all, no one died.

He looks at her. "It was an accident. I was trying to help."
She lies there some more.
"I'm sorry," he says. "It was an accident."
She hears a voice calling her and gets off the floor.
"Get the cat out of the room and shut the door," she hisses. "I'll deal with this later."

~CURTAIN~

*We have moved in with the cat (and my mother) temporarily for various reasons probably not relevant.

snowshapes Tue 08-Jan-13 20:29:15

I am sorry, I can understand you are upset but really, truly, it sounds like a genuine accident and him not knowing how to handle the cat, but he was trying to help. He doesn't need punished, even jokingly, though I do understand your frustration. Sounds like he does too.

theleanandhungrytype Tue 08-Jan-13 20:40:32

RabidCarrot
I am sure you are a lovely person but you come across a bit angry in that post

bonzo77 Tue 08-Jan-13 21:23:14

Obviously you won't punish him. But I feel your pain. And love your writing. If the knitting doesn't work out....

CocktailQueen Tue 08-Jan-13 21:31:52

I love your writing too. Maybe you should consider a new career as a novelist? Blogger? Am v sorry about the shawl but honestly doesn't sound as if your h meant it. Accident.

baw70 Wed 09-Jan-13 00:13:21

I don't know if it will help at all, but I have one exactly like that. New, light coloured, expensive carpet laid and within half a day he'd spilled a cup of coffee on it. New kitchen installed, a week later he opens a bottle of elderflower champagne (that I'd told him to take outside) in there, which explodes and decorates the entire kitchen walls, cupboards and surfaces with sticky fluid. New hall runner, he trod cat shit into it. I'd made food for everyone before going to college and left it out ready to be served - he knocked a wall lamp, that fell, smashing the bulb inside all over the food. Came home once, to find my feet sticking to the kitchen floor, like in a cheap nightclub - he'd been making wine and the sugar water had boiled over onto the floor and stove. I was picking bits of caramelised sugar off the stove for ages.
That's just a tiny example of his clumsiness and to be honest, yes I am weary of it. I know he can't help it and I try not to get annoyed, but it's ALL THE TIME! So, in short, I feel your pain. Yes it's frustrating and no, there' probably nothing you can do about it, so you have to decide if you can put up with it and if the good stuff outweighs the bad. Good luck!

bubbles1231 Wed 09-Jan-13 12:34:10

Midnight- your writing was really funny and you clearly have a talent for it! (It doesn't help the shawl though...)

littleladyindoors Wed 09-Jan-13 16:14:22

you so have a way with writing OP- as a knitter I gasped when he dragged the cat, and then when the thread was cut!! I feel for you, and your shawl.

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