My daughter has a vanity in her room.  The physical kind, a table with  a mirror, where you sit and primp yourself.  She had a vanity stool, but alas, it broke so we needed to replace it.  Enter assemble it yourself furniture.

She thoroughly exhausted the BBB website and found one that met her standards and was reasonably priced and qualified for free shipping.  Score!  Ordered and received.

Now we just had to put it together.

My daughter and I opened the box.  That took about thirty minutes.  I beleive opening packaging is a true test of character.  You want to know who someone really is- give them a package to open.  Once we got in, we realized the chair was a fairly simple thing- I believe there were 7 pieces and 1000 screws.  The screws were where we started to have issues.

First off- they wanted me to use an actual Philips head screw driver for some of the things.  There was the little L shaped Allen wrench, but also, Required: Philips Head Screw Driver.  What?  They want me to get an actual tool?  Like, actual work?

“Attach post c to post b using screw 2.”  OK  I ask my daughter to hand me required pieces.

First thing I realized:  I’m not that strong anymore.  I was having trouble actually screwing the pieces together.  Time for the electric drill.  Which of course has no charge.  My daughter looked very bored.

Two hours later, charged drill in hand, I taught my daughter how to use the drill.  Now using a drill on cheap furniture is a tricky matter- you have to be gentle.  You have to drill just enough so you can take over and manually screw it in.  I showed her how to angle it, the amount of pressure to use, etc.  After not too much sweat and tears, we did it.

After we finished, she asked the question “Who taught you how to do this?  Who taught you how to use the drill?”

To which I replied “I taught myself.  I can’t build much, but I know the basics.”

“When I get older, I’m going to pay someone to do this stuff.” she said

I started banging my head against the newly assembled vanity seat.

“You can’t always pay for someone to do stuff for you.” I finally said.

“Why not?  You have the handyman do stuff for you.” she countered.

She had me there.  I had recently paid the handyman to put up a new coat rack because i knew how much weight the rack would need to hold and I felt more confident with him doing it.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting expert advice, or paying for someone to do something for you.  But, there is also nothing wrong with having some basic skills.  Isn’t it nice to know that you can do something if you wanted to?” I said.

“But isn’t it better to know some things really well, like be an expert, and not worry about other stuff?” she asked.

Now she was giving me the “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality.  What do I say?  Part of me is thinking I’ve raised an over privileged child who has no practical knowledge, and part of me is excited because I can see her future career as a lawyer coming to fruition.

OK.  I needed some sort of Momlogic.  What do I say?  Is she right?  What’s the lesson and who is teaching it?

“Here’s the deal.” I said.  “You should be an expert on certain things.  Like, whatever you’re passionate about, and your career.  Clearly, spend your time and mental energy on these things.  But, there is nothing wrong with a smattering of knowledge.  There is nothing wrong with having basic survival skills under your belt, like sewing a button, making a meal, putting furniture together.  It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s good to know some of these things, to be able to do something yourself.  It makes you feel good about yourself.  It gives you confidence in your innate abilities.  It makes you know you can survive anything.”

Ok- I know I was stretching it.  Personally even though I can sew a button, cook a meal and use a screwdriver there is no way I’m surviving on a deserted island Gilligan’s Island style.  I could not make a phone out of a coconut.  Would she buy it?

“I don’t think I feel any more confident in my abilities now that you’ve showed me how to use a drill.” she said.

I hate parenting.

I showed her the stool.  “Look at this.”  I said.  “A few hours ago this was a bunch of pieces and screws.  Now is a usable item.  You can sit on this and it won’t break.  Doesn’t it feel good to know you did that?  That you can put together something useful?  That you had the ability to read the instructions, figure out what needed to be done, and do it?  You accomplished something.  Can everyone say that?  You know your Father would have thrown this down the garbage chute by now.”  His frustration level is very very low.  Putting new batteries in the TV remote could send him into a tizzy.  “You Father could not have put this together.  Doesn’t it make you feel just a little bit good that you could?”

She looked at the vanity.  Her mouth curled into the shape it gets when she’s about to be snarky.

“Yeah.  I guess that’s true.  I did do it.  And you’re right- and besides Grandpa (my father) no one else in our family could.”

Score.

“But this doesn’t mean I want to spend weekends building things.” she added.

“Fine.” I said.  Do you really think that’s something I wanted to do, spend weekends building furniture?  “And now you have an idea how to use a drill.  And this is about the fifth thing you’ve helped me build.  So be proud.”

She picked up the vanity chair and brought it to her bedroom.  As she walked away she quietly said “Can you make me hot chocolate?  You do it so much better than I do.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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70 thoughts on “Just Because You Can

  1. This is great! I so enjoy reading your posts! These are the moments I look forward to! However, I do think it’s so important to know the basics! Good on you! I tell my husband all the time I’m going to teach our kids how to drive a manual car (even though they aren’t as common anymore) because I think that is a very important thing to know! Buuuut… we will see if that happens. 15 more years till I even reach that stage.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It does make you feel good that you can do things by yourself. I’m not very good at putting things together. That’s one of the reasons why I married my husband. 😊 I try but if I can’t figure it out then I’ll have him do it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This reminds me of my single years. I always carried 3 “tools”.W-D 40,endless uses. Needle nose pliers. O.k. they were in a drawer in a place I moved into but they are good for wrentching things open or reaching into small spaces. And 3rd:a high heel. I have a hammer now but then it was my hammer &bug killer.Now I’m married to a man with tools coming out his ears.And he fixes things😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve always liked knowing that, in my everyday life, I can do most everything for myself– do basic clothing repairs, build furniture, change a tire, etc. It always baffles me when people don’t want to know how to do relatively simple things like that. Doesn’t it feel pretty cool to, say, build a bookshelf with your own hands? I like knowing things, and I like knowing how to do things.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Must have basic skills for the zombie apocalypse. But seriously, I am stunned by the number of people who can’t cook at all. Talk about a necessary skill. I imagine your daughter will learn that having these skills is a good thing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Such a relatable story and as a parent I connected. I believe I started late teaching this lesson with my daughter but I am still teaching my son. Minor point “believe” spelled wrong early on in the story.
    Storytelling is a great way to hold an audience and relate an idea, and you do it well.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great job teaching your daughter a skill she can use, it’s on her now whether to use that skill or not. All you can do is direct, encourage, and try to guide-after that, it’s up to them. I have three boys, two that we raised. We tried to teach them basic skills like cleaning house and cooking, one picked up on the cooking and the other on (we’ll say work ethic). Now they are each 30 and one can’t get or keep a job and the other has a great job but won’t make himself a meal. Whatcha gonna do? lol

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  8. Hahaha.
    At least you’ve been planting the seeds. One day at it will 1:00 a.m. in the morning and she’ll desperately need to repair something and she’ll remember her mom taught her some basic skills to get through… then she’ll go youtube it 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  9. 😂😂 I love your posts!

    Okay, this one reminded me of my 28 year-old daughter, a Millennial. She hates it when she acts a certain way and I point out her millennial status. She will hire someone in a second to do things she claims she has no time for, except when she asks me and/or my husband to do it for her. We helped her move into a new condo months ago and she keeps lamenting about how she needs to get her pictures up on the walls. (Mind you we helped put up all of her pictures in her previous apartment that she was in for about two years.) I hate putting up pictures even though I put up almost every picture in our house. And, I just put up new rods and curtains in our home, mostly by myself, because I like to challenge myself, and I feel proud when I’ve done something as well as someone else who gets paid to do it. I put together all of my book-room bookshelves and all the other furniture in there too. It was from IKEA and had what seemed like hundreds of screws and bolts, but patiently I took my time and did it. I’m not patting myself on the back by any means, but just trying to show how a little patience and tenacity can yield rewarding results. Why doesn’t my daughter get that? She will eat out in favor of cooking every time. And she will pay someone in a heartbeat to do something she can’t be bothered with doing. Did we spoil her?? You’re not alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Your daughter is a girl of my own heart. I never got that gene at fixing things or putting them together. I’ll go to a used furniture store or resale shop first not to save money, but just to see if someone else has already done the work for me. 🙂 – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I, too, am married to a guy who would have thrown the pieces down the chute. Try the empowerment angle. The kind that says we don’t NEEX a man to do everything for us. My mom taught me that way. Independence, empowerment, blah blah blah. It worked.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. “As she walked away she quietly said “Can you make me hot chocolate? You do it so much better than I do.”” best part of this post. 🙂 i think everyone should be required to take shop and home economics in high school so they can navigate the normal paths of life.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Ah hahahaha! Great read! I LOVE it when instructions call for “real” tools, makes me feel so accomplished and capable! I totally get where you’re coming from! 💪🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  14. lol Great post. I laughed when you said: “My daughter and I opened the box. That took about thirty minutes. I beleive opening packaging is a true test of character. You want to know who someone really is- give them a package to open.” That does take take and muscle, and scissors or some other sharp object. ^_^ Love how you ended this post. Cute and so relatable. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I was going to suggest something along the lines of Michelle, one of the first commentators. Because I’m like you, but at the same time, understand that compromise is a catch-22 in some situations. If you want to do your thing while they are here, then assign them (or him) the tasks. The stress of ‘wrong’ food choices or whatever can then rest with them. (And as a control freak myself, I know how this potentially could affect you, but take a step back and let them sweat it out. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. I practice this with the kids on a daily basis…)

    A follow up will have to be posted next week. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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