Today I fixed the chain on my littlest Pioneer Girl’s bike.
There used to be a time when, in a fit of not-wanting-to-do-that-right-now, I told my little kids that that sort of thing was a “Dad Job,” and they would have to wait until Dad got home and ask Dad to do it. That went for such things as getting the screwdriver to remove the battery cover to change the batteries in the
loudest favorite racecar, or fixing the squeaky drawer, or starting the grill for dinner, or anything that made me go outside and work where it’s hot. (This is Arizona, people.)
Then one day I thought about what I was teaching my kids about what girls can do. And it wasn’t the right thing. Blergh.
I grew up in a house with no boys. It was me, my mom, and my little sister, and we did everything. My mom was especially great about it. If there was something she needed done and she didn’t know how or didn’t have the right tools, we had an amazing Grampop a few miles away who had the tools and the knowledge to do pretty much anything. But my mom never asked him to do it for her — she always asked him to show her, so that she could do it next time. And he was super supportive of her and patient as she learned.
I watched my mom do everything, from running both an office and a household on her own, to cutting pieces of wood with heavy machinery in our backyard to create art, to things as simple as arranging the logistics of our annual vacations. Eventually she passed some of those jobs down to me. I remember all three of us sitting around the cordless phone with a notepad (pre-Internet, people!) as I called and got rates, compared locations and prices, and then finalized the hotel and rental car arrangements for our trip to Seattle the summer that I turned 12.
And now I’m telling my kid that I can’t use a screwdriver to change some batteries? Dude.
So a couple of months ago I stopped saying “Dad Job” to my children, and I got out the tool box. My girls see me get my hands dirty and fix their bikes. My boy knows that I can run the lawnmower or jump-start a car. They’re learning, by watching me and working with me, that there’s no such thing as a “Dad Job.” Girls can do anything.