Sunday, January 24, 2010

To Teach or Preach? A Nagging Question

Everyone has been in a situation at one time or another where the expression: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach. It has something to do with practical and applied knowledge. There are some situations where the this phrase should be rephrased: Those who can do; those who can't, preach.
Some of the things I can do and teach or preach: sew on a button, scramble eggs without getting them stuck to the pan, fold and put away clothes without wrinkles (that's a teach/preach ), the proper way to load the dishwasher ( a definite preach!) just to name a few.
Things I can teach but can't do: the double knot on a shoe. The kids' shoes stay neatly tied; I on the other hand, have been known to stop during a walk to retie my own. Drive stick shift; it's been rather difficult for me to get the hang of simultaneously using the clutch, accelerating, shifting all the while keeping the car from hopping down the street before dying out; but my son got the hang of it after a few instructions from me. My dream of driving that little red sports car will never be realized. Car repair is something I know absolutely nothing about, but I do know that if the engine needs looking at there is no need to take a hammer along.
All this talk about cars brings me to the ultimate teach/preach situation: the teenager learning to drive. The day the youngest daughter finished the classroom part of driving lessons we headed to the DMV for the learner's permit. Once she had that in her hot little hand she slipped behind the wheel of my car. I should mention here that my car was just four weeks old. We headed to a parking lot for her first lesson. That would seem to be the safest place to put into action what was taught from a book....ya think? I didn't realize what is in a parking lot. For one, there were the parked cars; then I noticed light poles, a mailbox, and a bike rack. Right in the middle of the lot was an island of trees and shrubs; and more parked cars. Did I mention my car was new and still had the sticker info on the back window? I was pretty calm when the car lurched forward then screeched to a halt and we had only left the parking stall. After five minutes of that we switched positions and I drove home. She slammed the car door, stomped her foot , and cried, "I'm never going to drive with you again!", went into the house and slammed that door, too. Little did she know that we would do this again tomorrow.
I often wondered how many parents have had to force their teenager to get behind the wheel. I couldn't let her insecurity (or my teaching skills) get in the way. This second day was proving to be a repeat of the first. I have to admit she didn't believe that my clutching the door handle ("do you think that instills confidence ?" ) or whispering, "omigod" under my breath ("if you're going to swear I'm not driving") was because my life was flashing before my eyes. I must confess that I may have overacted a bit because at this point we hadn't even left the driveway. I promised to try to relax and not be vocal. It must have worked because in about a week she was asking if I needed to get anything from the store and she'd be happy to 10:00pm!
Behind-the-wheel was going along great. The test for her license was scheduled for her sixteenth birthday. The plan was to leave school and not to tell anyone. When the big day arrived we were in the middle of an unbelievable snow storm. There was so much snow coming down school was cancelled for the day. The DMV didn't cancel tests and we arrived as planned. She passed with flying colors; the only negative comments against her were that she didn't warm up the car while scraping snow off the windshield. It seems the tester didn't like getting into a cold car.
Now she is driving everywhere; on the highway, several counties away, places her sisters would never have dreamed of going as new drivers. She has become a good driver (must be that great teacher she had). After several months it was time to get this girl a vehicle of her own. I was getting tired of driving her to and from school and she had a job now; there was insurance to be paid. I also didn't like being forced to stay home even if I had nowhere to go because she had my car.
The other day we had a few errands to run and I usually do the driving but suggested she drive this time. After we left the third store she asked if I'd like to drive her car. It's a thirteen year old Buick Regal. It must have been really something back-in- the- day because it still is pretty nice; although there is no CD player or cup holders there are still a lot of upgraded features. She is very proud of her car and wanted to show it off to me.
I slipped behind the wheel adjusted the seat and was ready to go. I had no idea what I was in for. My car doesn't have much "play" in the steering wheel and was immediately told to stop "playing" with her steering wheel. When I came to the stop light I was glad I had on my seat belt, "can you stop a little easier? You could cause whiplash!" As I pulled into traffic I learned that you're not supposed to cross the solid white lines and are expected to always use the directionals, "even if there isn't a car behind you." I thought I was saving the life of the little light bulb. When I switched lanes in the intersection I was reminded that the rule says you shouldn't do that. My comment: "you mean there are rules for this?" was not taken in the spirit it was said. When we reached the parking lot of our next destination I was yelled at for driving "helter-skelter" (sounds like something I must have said to her during the "teaching" phase). I guess I'm just not up- to- speed; it's those darn "rules of the road"! I got out of the car, slammed the door, stomped my foot and cried, "I'm never going to drive with you again!". She tried to hide it, but I could see the smile on her face as I gave her the keys. We did our shopping and then went out for ice cream. My daughter did the driving.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Apple Slices Sound Good About Now

I've been in situations where things are not going as I would expect and I just let out my feelings. Probably not the coolest thing to do; you know, the sales clerk that won't return an item without a receipt even though the tags are still attached or the driver in the next lane that drives so slow making it impossible for you to pass. I suppose I've even uttered that four letter word and tossed in a hand gesture or two when I felt the times was right. After either getting my way or still making a scene I've found myself somewhat remorseful for my actions and have decided it was time to change my ways. Before you go patting me on the back or giving me the high-five let it be known the intention remains the same it's just the words that I'm changing.
My plan is to communicate my fascination, displeasure or disgust without the object of my disdain being aware of the fact. "Frickin" or "fudge" is now accepted as a softer version of the real F-word; everyone between the ages of 4 and 104 knows what you're really saying. So I've decide to try my hand at complicating the act of communicating.
Did you know you can smile and say "idiot" without moving your lips? Try it. See, it's easy and it comes in handy at times; the times are when you are having to deal, with an idiot. There are other times when a smile and unmovable lips will not do. You're in a hurry, spotting the shortest checkout line, you rush past the old guy breathing with an oxygen tank and nearly trip over a toddler pushing her own stroller just in time to see the clerk put up the "This Lane Closed" sign. "Aw Sugar!" is too close to the real thing and there is a toddler present. I now prefer, "Apple Slices!" "Darn it" is too commonplace, I'm beginning to like the sound of "Donuts!"
Let's get creative. Everyone knows OMG is omigod, but do they know over my gardenia? You may to utter a few more syllables but you've got them thinking. "Falsify" could be the substitute for the proverbial you-know-what word, and "Brown Shoes" can be the new BS. Ok, now you've got the idea. Crack open your Funk & Wagnalls and get started confusing everyone.