23 October, 2010



More than 15 years ago, when our children were small, we moved into the apartment we live in now. We moved from a small slanting-ceiling attic apartment into this spacious end of the 19th century stucco-ceiling palace-like apartment. This apartment is twice as big and the ceilings twice as tall as the old one. Literally.

For the first time in my life, I took some money from my savings and bought furniture and building supplies to “make” up our new home. I spent nearly two months installing lighting, bathroom features, assembling cupboards and various pieces of Ikea furniture, building bookshelves, curtain rods and coat racks. It was an amazing time.

My father taught me a lot about how to use tools and how to build, repair, and restore things. So this time of preparing for our move into the apartment was, in hindsight, almost an homage to all of his patient instruction and care.

What I didn’t realise until today while having a conversation with my son, is that there is a very large likelihood that I might never do something like that again. Secondly, even though my father taught me how to make things and use tools properly, I have not passed on these skills to either of my children. It makes me sad to think that something so valuable and costly learned would not be used again or be lost to others.

Even the idea that no one in my immediate family remembers how my father used to whistle under his breath while working, or how he was able to repair anything, and I mean Anything, either using a special brand of black electrical tape or cable binders, is a sad thought. Obviously, it is not possible to pass on all that you’ve learned in your life to your children, but perhaps we should not slip in our diligence.

Upon reflection, what would you like to pass on from either your mother or father to your children?


  1. You're right - sometimes we don't pass on those old skills that don't seem so useful on the surface, but that would really come into their own!

    I love your collage - very much reflects the coming season. (Our snow has now disappeared and we're back into autumn again.)

  2. I would love my kids to learn sewing from my mother. I don't sew, but she makes such beautiful things and it would be sad to see those skills lost.

    LOVE the collage! That's one of my favourite images as you know.

  3. My dad was not handy but I wish he were still around to pass on his amazing sense of humor to my children.

  4. My mother was gifted in her gardening - which I love to do and also made the most wonderful quilts and could sew and make anything.
    I do not like to even thread a needle and my daughters probably do not even know how to thread a needle. They comment on my gardening but they do not seem to have time. I always made time. So these are two things that my children and grandchildren may not ever do.
    But then - they do things I do not. They have a love of travel, people involvement and many things that do not interest me:)

  5. What's interesting to me is that my son both learns a lot directly from my mother-in-law because he spends part of each day with her, and he learns quite a bit from my husband and me. I usually think of us as sedentary and not using our hands much but then I remember that my son at age 8 (well, almost) has already tried his hand at spinning, knitting, sewing (both by hand an machine), soldering (totally my husband's idea), whittling, and he has build himself a shelf/table-thing out of discarded wood. He decorated it with tons of nails and screws, even. He doesn't help much when my mother-in-law or husband work in the garden but he learns just like my husband and I did by sitting next to us while we are doing projects of our own.

    Maybe living in a house with a garden, and lots of tools in the basement makes it easier to pass things like that along.

    It'll be interesting to see what he'll turn out to continue when he's grown-up.