Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Lou PSA: Mamas (& Daddys) Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Useless

Mamas (and Daddies), don't let your babies grow up to be useless...

Apologies to Uncle Willie, of course.

On any given day, I feel like a very capable, strong woman (hear me roar!).  But whenever I'm confronted by anything resembling a "maintenance" issue-- be it with my jalopy or my house, or in this case someone else's house-- I am reduced to a manic pile of quivering stressmeat.

I don't blame being brought up by a single mother; Big Mama Lou has become much more capable than I am over the years.  I blame being brought up being surrounded by so many exceptionally capable men.  My grandfather, Chip, was a plumbing and heating guy, but he was a jack of all trades.  He could woodwork with the best of them, perform car repairs, and fix nigh anything if given the time.  And he raised his four sons (five, if you count my dad, who died when I was a babe) to be equally handy.  I doubt that side of my family has called more than a half dozen repairfolk over the course of the past five decades.

But me, I never learned to change a tire or how to figure out what's wrong with my water heater or how to fix a leaky faucet.  It's all beyond me.  And this lack of basic maintenance skills has (a) caused me grief and (b) cost me a considerable bit of money in my adult life.

So yeah, this tangent is apropos of nothing, really.  I'm just offering a PSA to my readers with kiddos:

If you're not handy, if your partner-- if you have one-- is not handy, and y'all have kids:  apprentice said kids to a handy relative or friend.  Force your babes to learn how to paint a room, how to jump a dead battery, and how to shut off the main waterline to the house.  Find someone who can teach them financial management and how to say "no" to those t-shirt-offering credit card companies on their college campuses.  

And heck, if you're not handy, and you find someone to teach your KIDS to be handy, well maybe then you'll also save yourself a boatload of money on plumbers and painters and mechanics and electricians along the way.

I'm just sayin'... 


Linda said...

I"m fairly useless myself, although I CAN hang sheetrock. Probably not well anymore, though... I could also potentially make your toilet stop running. Maybe. And change your tire (on your car or bike). But that is about the extent of my usefulness. Let me know if you need any of those services.

Anonymous said...

I did shut off that water main. And I had Lou's battery at AutoZone within 30 minutes of it going down (two jumper cable trials couldn't save it). And painted the front porch (which could use another go). And planted most of what is in the yard, which is now overgrown because I'm not here every second.

-- Roommate

M said...

My apologies to Roommate, who did indeed come to my aid today when my battery died and was the one who knew to turn off the water main when my neighbor's toilet exploded while I was babysitting her house.

I was in no way suggesting that I didn't have capable people to come to my aid when crap hit the fan.

I'm just recognizing the fact that had I been alone in my neighbor's house when the toilet became a geyser, I don't think I would have known how to stop it. It was late at night, and I probably would have stood there like the boy with his finger in the proverbial dike for hours, feeling helpless. And as I watched Roommate hook up the jumper cables today, I knew that I would have had to beg for help from a stranger-- and hope that that stranger knew what he/she was doing-- if I hadn't had someone to call.

I stand by my PSA-- teach your kids to be handy. But sorry, Roommate, I didn't mean to imply anything about your handiness. It's just that you're not, as you said, here "every second."

Shiloh Walker said...

I'm not handy. You couldn't teach me to be handy. It's a skill I sadly lack. My husband, thank God, IS handy. O.o As are a couple of my brothers.

I'm sort of a disaster in the making.

M said...

Linda, you can hang sheetrock and I can strip a Katrina flooded house with a crowbar and a sledge hammer to the studs in a matter of days. We'd be a good pair somewhere under some circumstance! I can stop a running toilet, but not one where the pipe broke and water explodes out of it. This is why I try to avoid taking care of someone else's house, pets, kids, you-name-it, if I can.