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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Teach All Those Skills To Your....Daughter!

I was born to parents of the early 1920s. They were basically raised by parents of the 1880s which means they had definite ideas of what the roles of boys and girls were meant to be when it came to household chores.

It was almost too much to bear when they discovered me playing with WWII plastic soldiers and God forbid, Russell's WWII battery operated tank. But that tank could climb over books, shoes, pillows....it was a great toy! I would be reprimanded and reminded that I "could watch, but don't touch. In fact, you can go back to your room and play with your dolls, and little kitchen appliances." I coveted that tank!

I was taught all the skills of a homemaker from the time I could push my little red chair to the stove and/or sink. It wasn't play time; it was serious business and no one was exempt from chores. Russell, on the other hand, was being taught by Dad to work on the car, work on farm equipment, what the various tools were for and how to use them, how to build, and how to do home repair. After all, one day he would be the man of a household and need these skills to take care of his family. I sat by silently and watched. And I watched a lot. 

It wasn't until I was older that I realized just how much I had observed all these tasks. Sometimes Dad let me be the gopher and I enjoyed that as well. Not being allowed to ask questions, I took in everything he was doing without realizing just how much but my mental questions went unanswered. I acquired head knowledge but not hands on knowledge. 

By the 70s, all of life was changing for so many. We scarcely knew the life of the 50s and before that, as roles changed, people's values and philosophies changed, and fitting into the box was beginning to go by the wayside. All those years of being expected to fulfill the role of a 1920s housewife went right out the door. It was no longer who would take care of whom, but who could even do it?

I can't say that my parents raised us incorrectly, as they had no idea where life would take us or this society. Little did anyone know that Russell would never reach his 14th birthday, but then, they weren't here to see that either. It was me who survived to carry on alone. It was me who had to learn to patch roofs, change the oil in the car, and do the minor plumbing repairs. It was me who worked the two to three jobs at a time to support the household and make ends meet. I'm the one who mowed the lawn, and walked the corn fields to ultimately drag and dress a deer. And eventually, I'm the one who built much of my cabin. And how? From watching Dad all before the age of 12. Today, how I wish I'd had the hands-on experience and questioning afforded my brother back then. 

The days of expecting your daughter to be "taken care of" are over. They exist for few. So when you are teaching your son how to do household repairs, how to survive in the wild, how to build or work on the car, how to drive the tractor and/or farm work, teach your daughter as well. You have no idea what is around the corner for her or yourselves.

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