sons

strut2so i spent this weekend replacing a set of front end struts.  i can think of many, many things that i would’ve rather been doing this weekend, but all in all it wasn’t bad.   there was some swearing and a bruised muscle and a sunburn, but no scraped knuckles, no blood and the ride of the vehicle was improved significantly.strut1

before i did it, i had all sorts of naysayers chiming in.  “oh, i had a friend/brother/cousin/whatever who took out an eye/broke their jaw/lost a finger/some other horrible thing because of the coil spring.” “you can totally damage your rack and pinion steering if you try to do that yourself.”  “it’s a two person, 3 day job if you don’t have the right tools.” and so on and so forth.   sure the usual stupidness happened.  part way through i had to go rent another tool.  i would’ve liked having another guy around to help put the bolts that hold the strut assembly to the steering knuckle in place and there was some re-engineering that involved a run to lowe’s to use the spring compressors in a slightly different way.  unfortunately i saw some other problem areas that i’ll have to plan for, but that’s better than not knowing and being taken by surprise.  And at the end of it there was a sense of pride and satisfaction in figuring it out that just comes with a job well done.

i think all kids, boys and girls alike should learn some level of car service.  they should all have to change the oil in a car once, learn how to change a tire and have things pointed out to them under the hood.   they should know the basics.  because someday they’ll be stuck on the side of the road or they’ll be stuck in a garage with an unscrupulous mechanic trying to take them for a ride.  a little knowledge might save the day.  the trick to that is knowing what they do and don’t know.

now this is going to sound sexist but i do think that boys should do a little more.  girls can too if they want,  but boys should definitely get their hands dirty changing a set of spark plugs once.  if nothing else, they can do this on a lawnmower, 4-wheeler or motorcycle.  they should see a belt changed, maybe help with an alternator or battery change.  if auto-shop is offered in high school they should take it.  they don’t have to be experts.  and they don’t ever have to do it again.  if you’re the parent of boy, you should make sure he can do some of these things, just like he should know how to catch a ball, drive a nail with a hammer and any number of other simple tasks.  they may not want to, but they need to.  and if you don’t know how to teach it yourself, you know someone who does.  and maybe you want to learn with them.  send them across the street to that neighbor who’s always got the car up on jacks doing something to it.  be safe about it.  make sure they’re not going to get crushed,  but it’s important.  it builds self reliance, confidence and analytical thinking skills.  it teaches them how to do a tedious task and see it through to completion.  the benefits of manual labor.  that getting their jeans dirty isn’t going to kill them.  how to maintain their investments.  how to look at a task that might seem overwhelming and impossible, how to research it and break it down into smaller steps and to take that first step.  valuable, intangible life skills.

my sister dated a guy once who was pretty much useless as far as any of these skills go.  she ended up working on the car and she was the one who repainted their small townhouse, hung doors and picture frames, replaced light switches, hooked up their stereo system and programmed their vcr.  and honestly, she respected him less for it.  she didn’t need him to do it, but his unwillingness to try and learn was a deal breaker.

that sense of pride and feeling of satisfaction i was talking about earlier?  it was heightened because of my trip to lowe’s.  on the way back there was a car with the hood up.  there was a girl looking at it and talking on the cell phone and there was a guy sitting on the curb, his back to the situation.  i rolled down my window and asked if there was anything i could do.  “no, i think the battery is dead.  my dad’s coming though.”  i offered them the use of my jumper cables and started asking some questions.  “were you guys parked here long, leave the lights on or something?”  with each question the guy’s face turned brighter and brighter red.  turns out it was his car and he had no idea what we were talking about.  short story long, i’m fairly sure their alternator was dead, it wasn’t charging the battery and the battery died but she couldn’t depend on him to help fix his own car.  she had to go running to her dad to save the day.  and i guarantee she looks at her boyfriend in a new light after that.

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8 Responses to “sons”

  1. I have to respectfully disagree with parts of this. Yeah, sure teach kids how to take care of themselves. That is hugely important. But, does a girl look down on a guy because he can’t change a tire? Well, I can’t speak for us all, but I don’t. I mean, sure it’s great if they can. Go Man! But, does it make him less of a person because he can’t….I don’t think so. I have dated guys who could and guys who couldn’t. And, for me, it was just who they were. I can’t sew a dress or bake a pie from scratch… I have other terrific qualities, though…. So, I would hope you would look past what I can’t do and appreciate what I can. We all have our flaws. But, that’s just my two cents…..

  2. Stud. 😉

    As liberated female as I can be most of the time, when it comes to cars, I know enough to make sure the mechanic doesn’t dick me over, but not enough to do it myself.

    Boobs help. Sorry, SBS, but it’s the truth. And yes, guys who can build stuff/change their own oil are hotter than hot.

  3. No need to apologize, Courtney… I said that I couldn’t speak for all of us…just for myself. And, yes, it’s hot when a guy can fix something, etc, but it’s just as hot when they can’t….case in point, the last time a nonprofessional tried to fix something for me was about two and a half years ago. I was fucking a surgeon at the time and he tried to fix the leaky drip in my bathroom sink pipe…he ended up totally breaking the hell out of it…and something that I could have probably done on my own was now a major plumbing emergency. But, I didn’t think any less of him. I thought that it was endearing that he tried. And, the man could cut people open and not kill them. That was much better than being able to fix my sink….. So, yeah, it’s awesome when they can do the manual labor of it all, but so is being able to save someone’s life, or dissertate the hell out of a paper, or win a court case, or what ever their strong suits are. But, again, that’s just me.

  4. Seriously?

    No, I won’t look at a guy less because he doesn’t have the technical know how to fix things. Sure, it would be nice, but it’s only part of the package. Every person is different, every situation is different. However, I do not look the other way because the guy can’t fix the car, sink or whatever mechanical thing needs to be fixed.

    Endearing?! You thought it was endearing that he ended up breaking it?! That’s endearing?

    Two cents entered.

  5. No, not that he broke it PW…that he tried to fix it….. But, it did lead to some incredible “I’m sorry I broke your sink” sex…..So…..

  6. I self-identify as a feminist, I graduated from a women’s college, I obnoxiously list my credentials in reply to a blog post, and I agree with you, Sean. I know plenty of guys who can’t hang a picture or change a tire, but I’m not with those guys. I don’t dislike them, but they’re not for me. I’m with my husband, who can do all that and much more. He was taught life skills, like how to care for his home, his car, and he has a natural inclination for fixing things, as evidenced by his engineering degree. That’s the kind of man I personally want.

    Interestingly, I find those same “manly” qualities that I find a necessity in a relationship are also attractive to my best gay friend. His big regret, he confessed, was that if he ended up with his beloved, he’d never marry a “man” like Nick. That comment really made me think about what I take for granted in my husband.

    I think many parents are no longer passing the DIY skills onto their kids, and that’s a shame. I was taught to jump my car, do basic home repairs, cook, etc etc. So was Nick. And so will Em. It’s astonishing how often my best girlfriend and I jump cars for guys!

  7. I’m pretty much as independent as they come as a female, so while I can’t say I’d look DOWN on a guy for not being able to do something like that, I sure as hell have to admit I’d look UP to a guy who could a little more. It’s hot when a guy can fix things. I don’t require one be able to, but it’s a nice bonus.

  8. My parents taught me none of those things, EDW. I’ve learned many on my own, and from male friends of mine who felt I needed to know them.
    It’s the kind of guy I personally want, too, I’ve come to realize.

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