Tuesday, December 04, 2012

"I'd Rather Learn To Do It Myself"

I've probably told this story before, but it bears repeating, I think.

A while back, a friend got divorced after 35 years of marriage. She was donating some of her daughter's old toys to the school and when I dropped by to pick them up, she invited me in. As we caught up, surprisingly, her ex popped his head into the kitchen to say "Hi."

I guess my expression asked the question. She answered, a bit defensively, "We're not back together. He's just doing some household repairs. I don't know how to do any of that stuff. He always handled it." Then she added, "It's a little humiliating." 

It turned out the chores he was handling were of the every day variety: tightening screws, changing filters, and tapping down nails. I offered, "If it's more comfortable, you could call me. I'm pretty competent."

She replied, "That would be nice, but I'd rather learn how to do it myself." 

That was the moment I vowed that my own daughter wouldn't need to rely on a man for basic home repair. And it was one of the primary motivators for my wanting to introduce hammers, screwdrivers, saws, clamps, and other basic tools in preschool. Yes, there are many pedagogical and developmental reasons for learning to used hand tools, but it was the practical ones that drove me. It's my considered opinion that just as everyone should know their way around the kitchen, we should all be self-reliant enough to handle our own basic maintenance: it's not rocket science and it's a lot cheaper than hiring professionals.

And, of course, no one needs an ex hanging around the house.

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