Friday, July 31, 2015

A lesson from my childhood


Yesterday I was shopping in
an enormous home supply
store ready to navigate the
overwhelming vastness of
inventory, I experienced one
thing that saddened me and
one that gave me hope. It wasn't the frustration of walking 
the half mile through the aisles to find two items,or the wasted 
time spent in seeking help, but my experiencing fond emotions from
my childhood. 

As I strolled down the plumbing department, I remembered going to
the hardware or auto parts stores with my father. I was a daddy's girl and
any opportunity to run errands with my father was seldom missed. To me, he was
the smartest man I knew. I can remember to this day the excitement I had and 
still have when I walk into a store with so much "stuff". I have always been 
curious and was reminded of how attentive and patient my father was to teach 
me what the "stuff" was for. Dad was a jack of all trades and could fix about anything. 
For example, I distinctly remembered the day we needed a "thingamajig" for our 
toilet so it would again flush on command. So my dad and I headed out to the 
neighborhood hardware store with the old broken part in hand. We were on a 
mission. We walked straight to the plumbing department (I told you my dad was smart)
and we meticulously examined all the possible replaceable parts. Finding what we
needed, my dad then showed me how the float and flush valve worked. He took my little
hand and ran it over the refill tube and explained that even though it lived in a toilet,
the water in the tank was clean and I need not to be afraid of getting my hands wet.
I learned how the flapper functioned and that the chain can be adjusted. I soaked it
all in (yes that pun was intended. Looking back, I guess I was being "toilet trained" for a second time.

The need to find my items and continue with my errands for the day created a sense
of urgency and it brought me back to the present. I continued on and was noticing the
fathers and occasional mothers strolling through the aisles with their children, and came
upon a man, and perhaps his young son, shopping in the"magical parts" department for
that "thingamajig" that made things disappear; a part for that all mighty commode.
It was then that I became sad. The little boy was curious and began touching values,
flush levers, and wax seals and asking little kid questions. The dad quickly responded
by directing the boy to "not touch" and handed him his cell phone commanding that the
child play a game so he could "think". The child quickly obeyed without protest. Maybe
the man was in a hurry or was having a stressful day but the missed opportunity to
teach his son a lifeskill that would perhaps serve him well in his future, was gone.
As much as I wanted to tell that dad to "teach his son how to fish and feed him for a
lifetime", I took a deep breath and relished in the memory of the lesson I learned from
my own father. I finally found the two items on my list and headed to check-out. As I
turned the corner at the lumber aisle I overheard a father telling his daughter how a
miter box worked. As I walked passed I could see the little girl holding a coping saw
in her hand. Once again, I relished in the memory of the same lesson from my own
dad, and it was then I was given hope. Some parents still take the time to "connect"
with their child and share valuable knowledge.

When I learned how important those little parts of the commode were, I not only learned
a skill that would help mold me into a self-reliant and independent adult, I felt the
connection and love from my father. So whether you are a parent or a professional that
influences children's lives, please don't miss out on a " teachable moment." These
moments don't just teach skills, but gives you opportunities to connect with the child.
That day I was truly connected to my father, who is still the smartest man I have ever
known. And by the way, I had to replace my  "thingamajig" earlier this year.