The Way I See it: Getting back to basic life skills

Michele Blais says children need to learn everything from cooking and cleaning to fixing things around the house

If you are a single woman and want to meet men, get a chainsaw, crank it up,  start to cut down a tree and men will appear. It’s amazing. Is it the lumber jack that lurks within Canadian men? Or is it the way the chain can cut through wood like butter, and you need to see and feel that again and again?

Spring is in the air and the chainsaws will be starting up soon as dead trees are cut down, branches trimmed off of healthy trees and gardens come to life. Last year we watched as our neighbours removed several dead trees off their property. The sound of the chainsaws were like a beacon through the neighbourhood as men appeared with their own chain saws ready to assist with cutting the pieces into smaller burnable pieces and take them home to their own hearths.

They sat around, chatted, fired up their equipment and cut the wood, filled the pickup, spread out the chips and all in all it was a good day. Men visited, they laughed, watched with total admiration as the tree faller did his work, climbing up the tree and piece by piece, very carefully cutting a 70-foot tree into a stump. That was very impressive as he moved up the tree with his ropes and safety equipment, chainsaw slung over his shoulder, jump up, cut, jump down, cut, jump down.  We were watching a skilled professional.

Kids were watching as well and I thought about how important it is for children to be observers and to be helpers. Many times a child or teen helping in family chores makes a huge difference. This is how children learn how to take care of their future homes, and yards, the tools, and equipment needed to manage our lives. They observe, they copy and they learn. Everyone plays a role in family and with everyone contributing to the functioning of the family, life is easier and leaves more time for fun.

Kids like to help, so learning to make their bed, help with setting tables, cooking, baking, yard work can start at an early age and then work up to more intricate chores. When they go away to school or move out on their own, being able to keep their clothes clean, cook some food and clean the bathroom are important survival skills.

Sometimes mine were keen to learn and be helpful and sometimes they did it grudgingly. I needed their help many times, and once into the project they liked it, especially if there were power tools involved.

For Christmas a few years ago I received my own container of Black and Decker tools. How optimistically I opened the black box, imagining the projects that lay ahead, rebuilding furniture, sanding antiques, doing minor repairs around the house.

Making a tool box for your sons and daughters and teaching them how to use them is an important life skill. Be sure to throw in lots of duct tape as well. They will be living in apartments or where ever and need to make minor or major repairs.

Maintenance prolongs the life of everything, and there is a great sense of pride in doing your own repairs.  Knowing how to do them well is important! Teach your kids when to do it themselves and when to call a pro in.

It starts with watching, giving clear instructions, letting them try and standing by and being the observer. They will make mistakes, and it will be painful at times watching as it was when you learned. Be patient.

Participating in chores is also a way to feel you belong, to a family, neighbourhood and our communities.

MIchele Blais is a Vernon Realtor and longtime columnist for The Morning Star, writing on a variety of topics, appearing every other Wednesday.