Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Basic Life Skills 201

When I was seventeen, my elderly grandparents visited us in Michigan. At the end of their visit they needed to get back home to Minnesota and I was appointed to drive them there in their car. We were going to drive north into da U.P. (yah) and across northern Wisconsin to Minnesota (the place of my birth).

My 80 something grandpa was in a wheelchair and had a "wooden" leg. He still carried his driver's license though and I remember that he insisted on doing some driving on the coast highway of northern Lake Michigan with his artificial foot wired onto the gas pedal. Did I mention that my grandpa was the stubbornest old man on the face of the earth? It was his car and I was just a kid so what could I say? A fun time it was with me white knuckling the dashboard and my little ol' grandma in the back seat.

Before we left on our trip, my grandpa, who had been a car mechanic about sixty years earlier, wheeled himself out to the car to teach me how to change the tire just in case I would need that skill while we were on the road. He sat in the wheel chair and gave me directions of how to jack up the car, remove and replace the tire.

Mr. Dirtywrench only knew my grandfather for a short time before Grandpa passed on but I think all mechanics are of the same mindset- that anyone who drives a car should at least know how to check the oil and change a tire. These are basic life skills, like - if you wear clothes you should know how to wash them, and if you eat food, you should know how to cook.

So in this family, I'm in charge of teaching the washing and cooking and Mr. Dirtywrench makes sure every car driver knows how to check the oil and change a tire.

It does not matter if you are a male or female. If you drive a car, you must know how to maintain it.

It took a bit of crying and foot stomping but after we were married, Mr. D. and I eventually came to an agreement that if he didn't have to wash his clothes or cook his food, I would never have to check my oil or change my tires.

But I do know my way with a set of jumper cables.

And I don't care how much he cries, Mr. Dirtywrench can still make his own breakfast.


  1. I can so relate to stubborn grandfathers! So glad you survived that drive.

    Not all mechanics are of that same mindset. My husband's dad was a mechanic. He kept an old glass Pepsi bottle in the car so my husband's mom could tap the corrosion off the battery cables when needed. But my husband has taught and teaches our kids (and new son-in-law) car maintenance. They have to know the basics and he'll test them on it every now and then. Love that. Now if he would just LET me teach the boys more about cooking, etc. They are always too busy doing other things.

  2. I've been amazed at how many grown men I have come across that don't know the first thing about laundry or cleaning (do they even SEE dirt?). I remember feeling a vindictive satisfaction when after my brother got married a few weeks later he asked mom to show him how to work the washing machine. Evidently his new wife took her clothes to the cleaners and only washed _her_ casual stuff. (interesting that the marriage didn't last)

    I always swore that any son I had would be able to cook and clean. I only had daughters but they both can change a tire and check the oil. My oldest can put together anything IKEA makes without a whimper. Her husband is a computer geek with no interest in tools; SHE has a workshop in the garage.

  3. The car had a flat the day I was supposed to take my driver's test, so Mom said if I didn't get it changed in time I wouldn't get to take my test, she wasn't going to help, just supervise to be sure it wouldn't fall off on the road. I am the only one of my sister's that has ever changed a tire.

    Then I married a mechanic myself. Every time I have a problem with the car I tell him about it. Trouble is he never really believes me so it has to happen when he is driving. One day the man is going to listen to me. But I can't complain too much not only does he do the car maintenance he also cooks and does the laundry.

  4. Love your comments!

    sue- what a gem you have!


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