This summer has been a summer of projects…for me, mostly. While I do pick up the phone and call handymen and experts, I first ask myself if I can fix the problem myself. I research YouTube and other online resources and then off to HomeDepot I go. I find satisfaction in completing the work myself, saving money, and learning a new skill.
However, I have been leaving a step out. While my kids ask if they can help me, I often dismiss them too quickly, thinking I can get the project done faster without their involvement. Plus, I kind of enjoy the quiet, focused time without too many questions. I now realize that I should take them up on their curiosities and offers without looking at the clock or looking for perfection.
After battling several things in our home going awry at the same time this summer, I called out for help. An appliance repairman showed up on the scene when water started leaking out from our dishwasher. My husband and I had looked up how to fix the problem and the real problem turned out to be that we watched the wrong DIY video- it was overcomplicated and intimidating. And who pointed this out? The appliance repairman said he felt badly taking our money for such an easy fix. We then proceeded to get into a deeper conversation.
First of all, let me send accolades out to this guy, the owner, for his honesty and integrity. He could have easily taken my money and completed the job. Instead he showed me how to fix our dishwasher. Secondly, without knowing it, he nudged me to think about some of my parenting missteps.
Before I go on, I need to paint the picture a little more by sharing a part of my childhood. We had DIY books all over the house. If something was broken or needed changing, my dad went to the library or bought the book. He then taught his kids many of these skills. While my brother got way more involved in car mechanics and construction projects, I was more interested in fixing things around the house. I learned to use tools, paint, wallpaper, repair, sand, and more. Since then I have replaced panes of glass, fixed rotten wood, changed window cranks, refurbished stained wood, painted pretty much everything, fixed the dryer, and more. Now you get the picture.
So getting back to my conversation with the appliance repairman- he remarked, in a kind way, how too many people pick up the phone to have work done for them instead of learning how to do the task themselves. He also added that we are raising a generation of kids who don’t know how to fix anything other than by picking up the phone. Yes he is a dad of younger kids, so he is speaking from the perspective of a father as well. He also added, in the seventeen years that he has been in his field, not once was he ever looking for work. No matter the state of economics, people need appliances to work. His job, his company, has been profitable and steady.
Now, let’s get back to my parenting shortsightedness. While I applaud myself for my know-hows, I don’t give myself any ovations for passing these skills on to my kids. Yes, there is some benefit to them seeing me tackle projects myself, but the real benefit comes when I start to include them. So just the other day, I was reassembling a bed frame and let my son use the drill. When my daughter’s chain fell off her bike, I showed her a YouTube video on how to fix it. It’s a start. And I plan on continuing the sharing of knowledge when the part arrives for the dishwasher and we have to take it apart. While they may begrudgingly partake in the project, they will one day thank me, as I now thank my mom and dad.
So if you’re reading this and your child loves taking things apart, fixing things, woodwork, or any other trade skill, foster that. Operating and owning your own company is a pretty good aspiration. I personally know a couple families who own their own HVAC companies and have to say they are doing well. Trade skills are not encouraged as they once were. It is up to us to open up that window- for self-sufficiency and more.