Monday, June 05, 2006

The Rabbit and The Washing Machine

Writing about washing machines yesterday made me think about another washing machine incident that happened when Paul was about 14, although bearing in mind his profound learning difficulties, his mental age probably wasn't more than about 3.

We had a rabbit. I can't remember its name but that doesn't really matter. He was brown, had floppy ears and was--as rabbits generally are--kind of cute.

Paul was the kind of child who had to be watched every minute of the day. Now I know that probably sounds like an exaggeration but believe me, it isn't. Blink and he'd be up to something! But watching somebody the whole time isn't easy and as I'm only human, there were times when my attention would be elsewhere and Paul would get up to things that, at best would cause me a lot of extra work, and at worse could be damn right dangerous (see this post).

I don't recall why I'd been distracted -- maybe I went to the loo; perhaps the phone rang; possibly there had been somebody at the door -- but whatever it was, during the time my attention had been elsewhere, Paul had started up the washing machine. Ok, so that's not so bad. A waste of water and electricity but no harm done. Or was there?

On closer inspection I saw something brown going round in the drum. Yes, you guessed it. He'd put the rabbit in the washing machine!

I quickly turned it off and unless you've had reason to desperately want to get the washing machine door open, you have no idea just how slowly 30 seconds can take to pass. When I finally heard the click and got the rabbit out, I could hardly believe that he still appeared to be alive and well. He shook himself a few times before hopping off in search of food!

I took him to the vet for a check up and no harm had been done. Thankfully, Paul had put the machine on a rinse rather than a hot wash. I dread to think what the result might have been if it had been the other way round.

One thing that's important to understand is that Paul was never cruel. He wouldn't have deliberately hurt any creature. He'd seen me put his teddies and other stuffed toys in the washing machine and had thought he could do the same with the rabbit. He simply hadn't understood what the consequences could have been.

He was terribly upset once it was explained to him but all's well that ends well.

Rabbits, I concluded, must be incredibly resilient creatures.



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