Girl Power
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Growing up, my sister and I were spoiled. My family didn't necessarily have a ton of money at any given time, but we were certainly treated well by my parents and were given just about anything we asked for. (Full disclosure: We were, on the whole, also very well behaved) Even though we may have begged for something unnecessary, like an extra streamer for our Get-in-Shape-Girl! workout set, that doesn't mean we got it. We had plenty already, whether or not we knew it.

In short, our parents were very good about treating us well but not allowing us to acquire big heads. (I acquired my big ego all by myself. Ha!) When I see those awful reality shows like WeTV's Daddy's Spoiled Little Girl and MTV's Super Sweet Sixteen, I become irrationally angry. What happened to earning an allowance? I hated raking the leaves, but I did it. When did obeying reasonable parental requests become so loathsome? Most adolescents I come into contact with these days feel that the things my generation were privileged to have are now things to which they are entitled. I find this depressing.

Oh, how quickly I manage to get myself off-topic.

Every year, I get a chance to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity with the Place-That-Pays-My-Bills-and-Shall-Not-Be-Blogged-About. I love it when this day rolls around because I always walk away feeling like I've done something good for someone. Last year, I roofed. I know how to install a shingle roof - did you know that? Yesterday, I learned how to lay brick. [insert dirty bricklayer joke here] I also spent a couple hours shoveling pea gravel into a huge hole in the ground, but that wasn't QUITE so instructive.

Over the course of the day's work, I was shocked to find that I have a pretty complete, working knowledge of tools. I surprised even myself by being fairly good at the whole brick thing (Full Disclosure #2: I had a partner for the project and we work well together, so it went well). And you know what? It was fun!

I was also shocked to find out how little some people know about how to MAKE something. There were community volunteers onsite who had no idea what a level was, had never seen a chisel, and were so uncomfortable with the idea of using a handsaw that they chose instead to shovel pea gravel all day. ALL DAY, people. How did these people make it through life never having used a hammer?

I would have never been comfortable with yesterday's activities had it not been for my childhood of "if you want something done, then do it." I attribute my natural confidence and general capabilities directly to my parents and the way they raised both my sister and me. We were no prissy princesses - we had skinned knees each summer, and yet we weren't tomboys. But we did learn vital skills like communication, decorum, and how to nail two pieces of wood together. I will never be one of those women who just stands by, watching a man fix her drywall, and I'm pretty damn proud of that.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.