Dear Fathers of Daughters*,
OK…not nearly inclusive enough. Let me try again.
Dear Fathers, Mothers, Grandparents, Fosterers and Caregivers, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, Neighbours, and all other important folks in girls’ lives,
OK…better…perhaps easier said with Dear Significant Adult Persons…(SAPs)
Please buy your daughter* a used toaster.
Once again, not quite as inclusive as I would like…OK then….let’s just say for now that daughter* stands in for … daughter, granddaughter, niece, student, neighbour, partner, spouse, son, grandson, nephew, significant person in your life (since it would lose something if I said “Please buy your SPIYL a toaster.”)
Starting once more…
Please buy your daughter* a used toaster. From a garage sale down the street or a Thrift store or when yours breaks and they seem to now, sooner and sooner, give her that one. With toaster in hand, help her take it apart. (A risk management message…Please unplug it first).
Teach your daughter* to use a screwdriver. The difference between a slotted one and a Phillips. Throw in a Robertson for good measure. Teach her to line up the tip and to apply steady pressure by pushing gently with the palm of her hand across the rounded top of the handle.
Let her know that it’s “righty tighty, lefty loosey.” It so much easier that clockwise to tighten and counter clockwise to loosen. Teach your daughter* to put the screws/nuts/bolts into a tray in the same orientation to the toaster so it’s easier to remember what goes where when it is time to put it back together. When the job needs it, teach her about pliers and how they help to grip and twist and cut. Introduce her to the wonders of wire cutters, needle nose, and vice grips and when each is appropriate to use.
Help your daughter* experience the awe of the mechanism of the toaster and how it moves toast up and down. Check out the wires that electricity flows through to create the heat to brown the toast. Marvel at the trap door that opens and closes so you can clean out the crumbs. Teach her it’s okay to take toasters** apart, check out how they work, and put them back together again. Teach her that she won’t break it. And if by chance, something does go wrong or off-track, that you’ll figure out how to put it back together again. It’s OK to try.
**Toaster stands in for bicycle, car, shelf, oven, climbing system, large engineering marvels, and all things made of a sum of small parts.
Wood. Saw. Hammer. Nails. Drill. Yes, set your daughter up with a date with these. Teach her to measure, mark, and cut. How to glue, nail, screw, bolt, fasten things together. A chalk line is a miracle worker–you wouldn’t want her to miss that. Not to mention the tri-square, circular saw, and nail set. Build a bird house together. A tree house. Your house. Build something. Anything. Teach your daughter* to work with her hands and with tools (and with her heart).
Tools are cool. If you can, get her her own tools. Not the pink ones please, they never seem to be made as well. A tool box. One to call her own. One for her to work with, learn with, and most importantly develop confidence with. Give her the skills and knowledge to fix, tinker, assemble, disassemble, build, et al….
For if you do, she’ll thank you. Every day. Like I do. Every day, I thank my dad for spending the time to teach me all of the above and more. I thanked him last night when my partner and I disassembled half of her motorcycle to install a luggage rack. I thanked him the day before when I knew how to shovel efficiently. I thanked him last week when I knew how to change the tire on my car. I can’t thank him in person anymore since he passed away but I thank him every day in my mind.
And I thank him here.
Thanks Dad for teaching me to use tools and to fix things. Both leave me free to shop at IKEA and save me lots of money along way. Throw in lots of other life lessons from tools and fixing things and I am so, so grateful that you (and so many, many SAP’s) in my life took the time to teach me to work well with my hands (and my mind and heart, too).
So-to all of you who are still reading, put your computer down and go buy your daughter* a toaster…or take your old computer apart or rotate your tires…it doesn’t matter, what…just go take something apart…and then put it back together. She’ll thank you for it!