Lisa's Lines

By: 
Lisa Ingebrand, LifeEnterprise

Does your family set a goal each year?
In 2021, my family will be focusing on basic life skills.
Throughout the past year, we, like many families, have hunkered down and spent more time at home together. And, over the course of this pandemic, my husband and I have come to realize how few basic skills our kids--ages 8 and 11--possess.

I’m not talking academics.

I’m talking the basics: changing a lightbulb, emptying a full vacuum cleaner, lighting a match, sewing on a button, and changing batteries.

This idea spurred from my 8-year-old asking me--and then her father--to replace the batteries in her toy.

When she asked me to help her, I instructed her to find the little screwdriver and the batteries we needed, but instead she found her father, who took the toy, found the screw driver, dug for batteries, and installed them for her. (The child knows how to work the system.)

Now, I’m not trying to rat on my husband. He was just helping her. His heart was in the right place.

However, the incident led to a parental discussion about how much we should--and should not--be doing for our not-so-little kids.

Possessing basic life skills is important in that process--not only to help yourself, but others as well.

John has utilized his mechanical skills numerous times throughout our marriage to keep our home, vehicles, and toys running smoothly. He also uses those skills to keep our friend’s dishwashers, cars, furnaces, and sump pumps running.

And I’m grateful my dad showed me how to change oil, check my tire pressure, drive a stick-shift, and operate basic machinery like lawnmowers, snowmobiles, and boats.

Someone once told me that with each new skill we learn or new experience we have, our pendulum of knowledge, comfort, and know-how swings just a little bit wider, making it easier for us to reach for more advanced skills and handle future situations.

So, my husband and I sat down and compiled a list of basic skills we want to teach our children. Some of the items on our list our girls already know how to do (just don’t always comply with), and other items are things directed more so at one child. (Anna changes batteries without assistance and is ready to learn how to fillet a fish.)

Here’s a sampling from our list: scrub a floor, clean a toilet, wrap a gift, iron a shirt, make a bed/change bedding, laundry (gather, sort, fold and hang), write and mail a letter, refill paper in printer, refill a stapler, read and use a paper map, check tire pressure and fill bicycle tires, call and order a pizza, count back change, politely answer a phone and take a written message, use a hammer/screwdriver/hand saw, properly set the table, have good table manners, locate the fuse box and learn what to do if a fuse is blown, paddle a canoe with a friend, put gasoline in the push mower, figure out a way to help someone--and do it, fillet a fish, light a match (from a matchbook), check oil (and help change oil), plunge a toilet...

It should be interesting.

So far, Anna and Ellen are enjoying learning “new” things, and when I told Anna to pick up the phone and order a pizza for our family last week... her jaw about hit the floor.

“Really?” she stated. “I can do that?”

Yes, my girl, you can do many things.

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