This blog is dedicated to all the dads out there with or raising (empowered) daughters.
When I was growing up, my room was filled with dolls, but very few of them were actually bought by my parents. Most of them were gifts from friends and relatives, who stuck to the social norm that little girls got dolls and boys received the cool stuff – tools and cars. I used to stare and glare at the neighbourhood boys with their tools and wondered why I couldn’t have the same thing. My mother gave me pots and pans, and Daddy gave me colouring books, drawing pads, paints, and pencils, and both of them indulged me with books!
It wasn’t until my teens that Daddy, the mechanical engineer, decided to teach me some practical life skills. He said the three Rs (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) were all fine and dandy, but his daughter needed to know how to wield a hammer, use screwdrivers, wrenches, and even a saw. I’ll never forget the long lectures about drill bits and strange carpentry tools I never saw anyone else use. Mommy was all for it, and so my training began. We couldn’t afford power bench tools at the time, so I didn’t go into too deep into carpentry, but instead of woodwork I was presented with car batteries and spark plugs. Sexy stuff, I know.
After I moved to India as a young bride, Daddy was concerned that I didn’t have the proper tools at home, so when he first came to visit us, he spent much of time scouring the hardware shops in New Delhi to build up my tool kit. He wasn’t 100% thrilled with the selection but was of the opinion that if all else failed then I could call in the pros.
A few years later, when we moved to Berlin in 2001, I took on the role of family electrician and plumber, installing the ceiling lamps, washing machine and dishwasher. Daddy was horrified when he heard this and didn’t trust my skills, since he hadn’t taught me the finer points of plumbing at all! Side note, this is the man who wouldn’t let me drive alone after I had passed my driving test. I had to pass his test before I could be set loose on the streets of Mexico! When I reassured him that the building manager had stopped by to check my handiwork and approved it with flying colours, not getting the drainage and water supply hoses mixed up, Daddy calmed down and was actually pleased as punch. During our weekly phone calls, however, he checked up on the wiring and plumbing and asked whether there were any leaks or short circuits and I was happy when I had nothing to report.
Mechanics, electricians, carpenters and plumbers that come to the house don’t really like me, because I hover around them and watch them like a hawk. The electricians and plumbers usually suspect that I won’t be calling them back because by the time they leave I have figured out how to dismantle the appliances and put them back together. The only thing I haven’t tinkered with is an oven.
There has been an annoying leak in the bathroom shower for some time now. Due to the pandemic I don’t dare call a repairman into the house, Lord knows what he might bring in and I certainly don’t fancy a trip to the hospital these days. But the leak increased and I knew I had to do something. Turning off the water every night was not a solution. This morning after breakfast I took out my tools, (after watching a YouTube video last night on how to do it) and headed into the bathroom to face… well to face the wall, basically.
An hour later, and after figuring out that I screwed a part on backwards, I have a fully functioning tap again and the leak has been contained. No parts were lost, and as far as I can tell, the valve will hold on a couple more months, which gives me enough time to figure out how to replace the entire shower fixture. Why not call in a plumber?
1. This being Germany, it will cost me a fortune, and
2. I actually enjoy the challenge.
I may not get it right the first time, like today, but practice makes perfect! I’m not always a FrogDiva, on some days I am TinkerTess!
So please, teach your daughters how to handle those tools!