Thursday, July 15, 2010

Talents lost over the generations... Can you add any?

I've noticed that as the needs of each generation changes, the talents passed down in families changes. But I'm starting to wonder if the things we pass down should be different, or if we should just pass down MORE? I think there are some things that, even though they seem antiquated, are still useful and necessary even in today's technology age. Grant it, any child now knows how to 'google' a how-to instruction sheet on just about anything that they want to learn. But isn't it better to get the experience from Mom and Dad first hand instead? I think this gap this shows that there is a huge difference in the way we were raised compared to how we raise our children today.

Yes, we have a lot more knowledge than we did before, and thank goodness for that! We avoid a lot of mistakes and hazards that our parents didn't know about. But, I think we also forget the simple things in light of today's technology age. Our kids are kept busy playing computer games and watching the amazing assortment of TV educational shows (or not educational lol). We know we have less time to get things done because we are juggling work and home and trying to find that quality time (as opposed to quantity time). As a result, we try to get as much done without them as we can, and then try to squeeze in that quality time at the end of the day when we know we will be able to focus our attention on them.

Well - at least, that's what I do. I'll admit it.

But I keep reminding myself of this: involve them in our grown-up daily life, and the quality time will come on its own. It really will!

Back in the day, instead of sitting in the cart at the grocery store and playing by myself with a toy in the cart, Mom involved me in picking out all the groceries. There wasn't an option of buying a toy, or picking out the cookies, but I was in charge of helping cross off the shopping list, or of helping to spot the right brand, or learning how the scale in the fruit section worked. For dinner, I was in charge of cutting or cleaning something (now Brandon's job) and I was the official 'taste-tester' of the house. (That easily became my son Michael's job as he grew up.) When it came time to do spring cleaning, Mom let me help pick out new paint for the walls and whether to rearrange the furniture or not. We had some really creative rooms! Not to mention, I learned a lot about the best ways to organize a room for the most effective use and what it costs to renovate a room on a budget.

So what things might we have fogotten to pass down in the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Well, I have been reminded of a few in the last couple of weeks and thought I would share with you things that you might have forgotten to hand down to your own kids. And don't think you're the only one... I forgot about these, too!

1) The ability to know which fruit is the best fruit at the grocer's.
This is one of those things that you might have witnessed your parents doing when you were younger, but unless you asked them to teach it to you, you might not have inherited this ability. Especially in the day and age of preservatives and wax covered fruit, this knowledge has fallen by the wayside a bit. I heard some great tips on the morning show I listen to this morning, though, and thought I would pass on some of those to you!
Watermelons - look for the yellow 'belly'. If you roll it over and there is a yellow belly on it somewhere, then it's ripe.
Cantelopes - push on the 'button'. If you push on the little belly button of the cantelope and it SMELLS like a cantelope, really smells, then it's ripe.
Peaches - (season: late june-august) Peaches won't ripen more after they have been picked, so pick ones that SMELL ripe. If it doesn't smell like a peach then it won't taste like a peach, no matter how long you wait.
Bananas - Bananas continue to ripen so make sure you buy them when there is still a bit of green at the tops of the bananas.
Corn - don't open it - that makes it go bad faster. You only have one or two days before it's not fresh, so farmer's markets are better than grocery stores. Instead of opening it, feel it, and don't overboil it. Add a tiny bit of sugar to the water too.

2) The ability to wait for someone to call you back if they don't answer the phone.
We live in the "i-generation". Children who grew up during the cell phone era have not learned the patience required for life (or the classroom either) because they have been conditioned to get an immediate response through text messaging and twitter. Instant gratification has replaced the quality of patience required to be able to wait for the larger reward instead of the smaller, more instant, reward. I think we all need to practice 'phone-less' time daily to get our exercise in patience.

3) Knowing how to mend or sew something. I would love to add tips on this in a seperate blog! Too much to mention right now, though. All that needs said is that it is important to teach kids how to sew on a button, mend a sock or hole their jeans, or hem that pair of pants they paid way too much for. A simple needle and thread will do.
When sewing on buttons, don't forget to put a straight pin across the button to add space for the button to move. It puts less pressure on the threads during washing or wearing.
When hemming dress pants, there is a specific stitch to use. It looks like an X and you only grab the tiniest bit of material so that the stitiching doesn't show on the outside. Try this link:
If you don't want to sew a hem, try stich-witchery or hem tape! It just irons on.
When mending a hole, try substituting a small piece of material behind the hole and then stitching the edges down. This helps keep the size of the garment the same, but helps close up the hole. Use scrap material from another sock or tshirt that is too far gone to use or donate.

4) Proper table settings. Does anyone know how a table SHOULD be set? I don't know how often it is needed, but it certainly is one of the lost arts. Although this website shows you how it should be done, remembering this is a matter of practice... which is why I can never remember it! lol

5) Vehicle maintenance. I remember when I was little, I was the official 'tool-hander-offer' to Dad. I HATED it. I would always pick the wrong tool because I didn't know the difference between a monkey wrench, a crescent wrench, and a rachet. I'm better about that now, but I learned then that you didn't always have to pay someone to change your oil. I know where an oil pan is, where the filter is, and even where the spark plugs and wires are. I also know how to bleed brakes to a point. Heck, I've even changed my own oil pump in the past. NOT fun. And even though the time it takes to do it is really worth paying someone else to do it, sometimes you don't have the money and so you must force yourself to make the time. I severely regret not forcing my son to sit down with me while I changed the oil in my truck as he got older. I would definately feel much better about him being on the road if I was sure he knew the basics of how a car works, just in case he breaks down.

Can you think of any other lost talents/arts that your parents taught you that you realize you haven't passed on yet?

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