I want my daughter to be able to make, fix and understand EVERYTHING.
I don't want her to think she has to SHOP her way out of problems or challenges: I want her to know she can DIY, not BUY. I want her to know she can produce, not just consume.
I want to teach her self-reliance and self-confidence, not helplessness.
I want her to know that she is capable of making it or doing it or solving it herself.
When I was growing up, my parents made and fixed almost EVERYTHING themselves: they constructed and upholstered furniture, put in flooring and wiring, built a porch and installed skylights, gardened vegetables and fruits and canned them, fixed and customized computers ... my mom did photography and painted and sculpted and sewed and knit and quilted and baked elaborate amazing cakes, my dad built beds and tables and chairs and bookcases. (All while both working full-time as public school computer teachers).
And always, always they tried to teach us.
Nowadays, I find myself wishing I had paid as much attention to my dad's teachings as my mom's — he would try to teach me how to build a bookshelf or install drywall or safely handle electrical wiring, but I really didn't listen. So I can paint, sew, knit, quilt and bake, but I can't repair a bicycle or fix a small appliance or design a computer network. Maybe next time I visit my dad I should ask for some lessons?
Z cut out my Red Velvet Clutch pdf envelope all by herself!
Myself, whenever I am doing ANYTHING that is safe enough for Z to participate in, I let her if she is interested. She can't go near the pins and shears, but she can help me tape together sewing patterns and wind my yarn.
No, I won't get things done as quickly as if I did them myself and let her play with her blocks a few feet away. Yes, she sometimes unravels my knitting projects or puts too many chocolate chips in the cookies. Who cares? The pride on her face makes it all worth it:
Some of the things my husband and I are teaching her (or will teach her when she's ready) Sewing, knitting, quilting, baking, cooking, biking, painting, photography, cartooning, writing, graphic design, using a graphics tablet in PhotoShop — seriously:
Some of the things my parents (and my brother and sister-in-law) are teaching her: Gardening, carpentry, boating, fishing, farming (my brother has a farm in Maine)... spackling:
Here she is helping my dad (her Zadie) build a custom wall-to-wall bookshelf in her bedroom:
I think all of this is already having a big effect. Half the time when I try to help her with anything because I'm in a rush (like putting on her clothes or shoes) she says "No thank you Mommy, I can do it myself!" She also stomps around the house in her boots proclaiming "I am so brave and so strong, I can climb really tall ladders!"
P.S. The bookshelf in the above photo was built by my amazing dad, the sculpture of me and Masheka is by my amazing mom, and the skirt I'm wearing is by me.
So: What did your parents teach you to make? And if you have kids or plan to—what are you teaching them/will you teach them?