According to a recent poll carried out by a soap company, 51% of men and 46% of women consider the most important lesson a father can teach his children to be basic DIY. Fixing stuff. How to be handy.
What this has to do with soap I’ll never understand. Although I do often require a good scrubbing after a day’s work.
I’ve tried to convey my invaluable do-it-yourself knowledge to my son, even going so far as to dragging him along with me on unofficial Bring Your Child to Work days. As I’ve written before, he has a great sense of humour, his observations are keen and he certainly understands the long-term effects of applying paint. But overall his interest in basic tool functions is low and his initiative levels are in the red. After all, why should he have to know how to plumb a washing machine when his dad is quite capable of carrying out the task?
I once asked him to cut a one-by-two piece of timber along a line I’d drawn for him and was shocked to find out he had to be told to face the pointy side of the saw down. He still can’t distinguish the difference between a nail and a screw. Even Blu-Tacking posters to his bedroom wall leaves him with the sticky blue putty under his finger nails, in his hair, his ears. I should have known from the start; when he was a toddler I bought him a set of plastic tools with which to pretend-fix his toys. He was more interested in how they tasted.
I blame myself. It’s not his fault he hasn’t inherited my genetic predisposition for repairs. But how do you teach a man to fish if he’s constantly looking toward the land?
Number two in the soap poll is How to Drive, which in our family is not a priority since we don’t own a car. But if and when he does learn, both he and I will enjoy it more if he’s taught by someone who’s less likely to disown him should he not demonstrate a proper three-point-turn. Number three in the poll is Avoiding Debt, which I’m afraid will have to come down to ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.
So do I go back to the drawing board for the great south London DIY legacy? If that’s the most important lesson I can teach my son then I feel sorry for whomever he ends up sharing a house with when he grows up. I suppose he could always sell soap.