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Day 20: Essential life skill

Do you know how to change a fuse?

I was sound asleep.

I could hear a sound. What was it? Why didn’t it stop?

The sound continued to ring out as I woke from what must have been a deep sleep. I realised I didn’t know where I was. It was dark. I reached out to turn on the light but there was nothing there. My extended arm was flailing around in an empty space. My brain registered that this wasn’t right. Where was I? Whose bed was I in? What was going on? I felt disoriented and the feeling of panic began to surface.

My agitated state woke my husband who was asleep beside me. Thank goodness he was there – something was familiar at least.

He turned on the light.

“That’s your cell phone,” he said.

I found my handbag on the floor beside the bed. I fumbled around looking for my phone in the depths of my bag. I made a mental note to sort through all the stuff I had in there – it was a big, bottomless pit! Where was the phone? I could hear it but I couldn’t find it.

It dawned on me where I was as I continued searching through my bag. I was in Auckland at my sister’s home. Lynsey and I had gone up there for the weekend to attend a family wedding. We were in my nephew Matthew’s bedroom.

I found my phone.

I noticed the time – 2am!

I read the text message from my daughter back home in Wellington asking me to call her.

My automatic reaction was to imagine the worst.

I listened as Zofia told me the whole story. They were all up late watching a DVD. They suddenly heard the sound of a big bang. A whole lot of the lights went out. They checked everything but weren’t sure what to do next.

“It sounds like a fuse has blown,” I responded.

“What do I need to do?” asked my daughter.

I decided explaining the whole process at this time of the morning over a cell phone just wasn’t worth it.

“Don’t worry about it. I suggest you go to bed now and phone dide in the morning,” I continued.

“Are you sure it is okay to go to sleep? I don’t need to worry about a fire do I?” asked my daughter.

I smiled.

“No, it will be fine Zofia,” I responded.

I was reminded of all this when a fuse blew again this morning. I watched as Lynsey decided this was a great opportunity to teach the females in the house how to change a fuse.

My daughters and my niece even got to practice their new found skill as the same fuse blew repeatedly over the next few days until we worked out the culprit was a faulty light switch.

How is one supposed to learn such skills as changing a fuse, or even knowing where the fuse box is located in your house? Do we teach these skills to our children or do we take it for granted that they’ll learn them on a need to know basis? So often we don’t know to ask someone about such things until they become a problem.

Do you know where the fuse box is situated in your home? Do you have any fuse wire in the house? If you’re lucky you might have a modern fuse box which merely requires you to push a button to reactivate the fuse.

I believe this is an example of an essential life skill which we are forgetting to teach as we go about the hustle and bustle of everyday living. We rely on others to know these things and we work on the assumption that these people who know what to do will be available to us when we find ourselves dealing with something that is straightforward but unfamiliar to us. I believe there needs to be a bit of a tradesperson in all of us and that increasingly these skills will be in more demand.

I smiled as I watched Lynsey teach the girls how to change a fuse. I had a flashback of watching my mother going outside to change a fuse during a thunder storm when I was younger. I am not sure how I learnt about fuses because I don’t remember anyone ever taking me aside and teaching me. I suspect I learnt about them by osmosis – through watching and asking questions. I am reminded that as time passes there are some skills that are not being passed on but the need to possess these skills is still there.

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