Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Girls, Boys and Tools

By L.A. Kohl
February 18, 2007
(published in the Mar 21, 2007 edition of the Bullseye)
Life has taken on a new dimension the past few years; now that we have a boy in the house. After all those years of girls (which I wouldn’t trade for the world) it’s now rather humorous when the occasional battle of the sexes reveals itself.

One of those occurred recently, when our young son turned four years old. Nate and I were headed to town with the two youngest, Jessie and Josiah. Before we left home, we stopped to get the mail. Much to Josiah’s delight, there was a birthday card for him from his Grandma Kohl, along with a $20 bill.

“Look!” he exclaimed, “I’ve got a dollar – now I can buy something at the store!”

After taking a few moments to try and explain to him that it wasn’t JUST a dollar…it was like twenty dollars all in one; he didn’t really seem to care one way or the other. All he knew was that he had money in hand, and we were going to town.

I, being the more conservative and practical one of the family, tried to convince him that he had just received several new toys for his birthday, and perhaps it would be wise to save his $20 for some other time when there might be something special he wanted. Nate, the ever supportive husband, chimed in and said, “Well, I need to go to Lowe’s – we’ll just look around and see what they might have in their after-Christmas clearance section.”

I could see it now. The two of them would walk into every man’s dream store; dad would see some cool new tool that he really liked, and would suggest to Josiah that was a really neat thing-ama-bob…and the money would be gone. I let my objections be known, and thus, when they dropped Jessie and me off at a near-by store before heading to THEIR store, Nate promised he would be a good boy, and not coerce Josiah into buying anything he didn’t want.

Imagine my shock when an hour or so later, I was putting my purchases into the car, and noticed a box bigger than Josiah helping him fill up his half of the back seat.

He smiled up at me and said, “I bought RED tools!” (He loves anything red.)

Immediately dad began explaining that Josiah picked out that 100 piece tool set all on his own…dad tried to steer him away from it, show him other interesting things…but since it was a $60 set marked down to $20, and since Josiah really liked it, they just couldn’t pass it up.

Jessie took one look at all those fascinating pieces and parts, neatly arranged in their plastic packaging, and begged, “Wow, can I play with your tools Josiah?”

“NO!” he replied without a moment’s hesitation, “Girls can’t use tools.”

(In a house full of women, I have no idea where he learned a sexist remark like that.)

But suffice it to say – Jessie and Josiah are the inseparable duo, and once we arrived home the two of them enthusiastically sorted sockets, drill bits, and all sorts of things I don’t even know the names of, for an hour or more at least. Josiah never once complained about Jessie’s interference. I was beginning to think that tools weren’t such a bad thing for a four-year-old after all. But then, when I was in the other room, I heard Josiah cry out in pain.

As I came back into the room, Jessie looked very guilty, holding a socket wrench behind her back. Josiah was crying and holding the top of his head. An older sister announced that Jessie and hit Josiah with the socket wrench, and Jessie muttered something like, “I didn’t mean to; it was an accident.”

Josiah stopped the tears momentarily, just long enough to glare at her and stammer in his little boy lecture voice, “That’s why girls shouldn’t use tools!”

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