In recent conversations, both in-person and online I have been amazed at how many people (both men and women, for the record) who don’t know how to do what I would consider “basic skills”. For instance, the amount of people who drive a car daily but don’t know how to change a tire is fascinating.
I learned how to do it in Drivers Ed because, just like putting gas in a car and checking the oil, it’s part of basic maintenance and operation of a vehicle. And yes, I’ve changed a tire more than once. I’ve also called AAA; but I know that there are times and places where I won’t have cell reception and I am going to be responsible for myself.
Anyway all of this got me thinking of what skills I want my children to have by the time they go to college. This is ever-evolving, of course, but here’s what I have so far:
Car care/operation: Change a tire, check tire pressure, check/add oil (and/or whatever new technology brings), how to read a paper map
Clothes: sew a button, fix a hem, iron, operate a washer and dryer without ruining the clothes. Bonus – if either kid wants to, I will teach them to use a sewing machine.
Home & Garden: start and use a lawn mower, paint, plant flowers, operate a drill and other basic tools, how to install new locks.
Cooking: make perfect chocolate chip cookies, cook a variety of proteins, make bread, make our family’s favorite recipes, make a good marinara sauce, cook perfect eggs, how to follow a recipe, starting a charcoal grill, cooking on a grill.
Maybe part of it was being the youngest of 3 and having “tired” parents, but I did all of these things by the time I was in high school. I mowed the grass in late elementary school. By 4th grade I was let lose in the kitchen without supervision and became the chief cookie and zucchini bread maker for the family. The summer between my 8th and 9th grade years I removed wallpaper and painted several rooms in our new house. I learned to sew from my mother and my middle school required Home Economics* so I furthered my skills there.
I remember being dumbfounded by a college classmate who had no idea how to use the dorm washing machines. I don’t want either of my children to be “that kid”. Beyond that I think that most of these things are simply basic parts of being a functioning adult and it’s my responsibility to teach my kids how to do them.
What “basic” skills do you want to teach your kid? As an adult, what skills do you wish you had?
*we were also required to take Shop where I learned things beyond basic tools like a drill press, table saw and metal working tools. Those classes were the best! I wish schools still required this.