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Our Story Begins: Driving And Drains..The Importance Of Teaching The Basics


 Our Story Begins:
Driving And Drains..The Importance Of Teaching The Basics

Earlier this week my daughter had a teenage catastrophy. She dropped her earring down the drain.  Now, to most of us that’s no big deal.  Still, I’ll bet for a good many of you that’s something you think is gone, not worth chasing after, and you might not even know what to do to get it back.

I, however, decided it was time for another lesson on the basics for my daughter.  I have known too many people – and I’m going to sound chauvinistic here for a moment, but too many women have no idea how to fix even some of the most basic problems.  My wife was one of those people.  I’ve known good friends who were the same.  I explained to Abbi how there’s a reason they call the elbow-shaped pipe under your sink a “trap.”  After about a half hour I had not only saved the earring but cleared a clog she didn’t tell me was there and had it sealed back up, even with teflon tape to seal the joints.

This isn’t the only life lesson I’ve given my daughter.  I took her out to a parking lot and made her change the tire on our little Honda Civic.  Changing a tire -hell, changing a battery – is really not that big a deal.  Sure, there’s some elbow grease and a bit of soot from the brake shoes, but compared to being alone, on the road, and waiting for someone you’ve never met to show up and change it for you is expensive and you are totally in their hands.

I cook, from scratch, nearly every night.  I make desserts homemade.  I make sure that my daughter knows how to make one fancy meal and will be able to cook one comfort food on her own.  I don’t expect her to be Julia Child but you never know when you’re going to have to cook.  You never know when you won’t have the money to go out – which is often in our household – and using what you have in the fridge or the cupboard are your only choices.

Too few of us, men and women,  know what to do in the simplest of situations today.  Growing up (and I’ll grant you it was in the middle of Nebraska), I did a lot.  We mowed three acres every week, my brother and me.  We changed the oil in the cars ourselves and did the routine maintenance.  We winterized our home, wrapping pipes, changing the water heater.  I know how to light a pilot light.  So it frustrates me when, for a real example, a friend’s significant other looks in shock and awe at the socket wrench I used to replace a car battery.  “That’s the most amazing contraption I’ve ever seen,” was the line he used.  It was hard for me to hide my disconcerted look.

My point to this is simple: we are the ones to hand the tools to our kids.  You don’t have to lose an earring blindly and go buy a new one.  You can polish your shoes.  You can change a tire, cook a meal, and be independent.  It’s not chauvinism to teach my daughter these things.  It’s equipping her for life.

Abbi, my oldest, is independent, smart, and beautiful.  Giving yourself over to others to handle these simple tasks gives up a little of that independence when you can easily do this.  I never tell her that she cannot do something if she wants to do it.  Learning to fix the basics in your house and keep up your car are simple ones that help you realize you can rely on yourself.

Now . . . if I could just get her to tell me how long the oil light has been flashing on her dash.

What about you? What are life’s basic lessons you are sure to pass along to your kids?

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Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California.  A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins, is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.


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