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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Practical Life Skills

This month, our practical life skills have focused on "what to do in case of an emergency" so to speak. I can truly say that I haven't planned these "emergency" situations, they have been brought to us.

A background tidbit of information is that we have recently purchased a $500 van in our hopes of not having a car payment and saving money for a newer model. Our previous 10 year old van had decided it was ready for retirement. I will have to admit that I never saw this van in my future, but we are trying to get ourselves back on track from when I ditched my corporate job a few years back to work at a montessori school (which was literally 1/2 the pay of my other job). Now, I go to work after hubby gets home (I teach computer skills). While I do not regret my decision to ditch the high-paying job- as it allowed me to find a teaching philosophy that I truly love and the time with the children has been priceless- it has been very stressful the last few years to try and get our finances "balanced" once again.

As my husband pulled the van in the driveway, I committed to being  as positive about driving this van as I could be. I even named the van, as I believe every vehicle with "character" such as this one, deserves a name. I dubbed it "Old Christine" from the TV show - saying this was going to be the "new adventures of our Old Christine." I don't personally watch the show, but thought the name was fitting. Little did I know, it was more than a cute nickname, but a peek into our future. Old Christine has brought us many practical life lessons this past month. Here are a few just to name:

  • When the van died while leaving the grandparent's neighborhood on July 4th weekend, I was able to model for the children how to politely decline rides from strangers. There was also a lake within a few feet from the place where the van broke down, so I walked the kids over to it while my husband and kind stranger pushed the van into the lake dock parking lot. Here we learned how to approach ducks and other wildlife in an appropriate manner.
  • When the van died while traveling down the interstate as we were headed home (once again from grandma's, after supposedly getting it fixed), the kids learned how staying calm in an emergency was important. They saw mom calmly coast to the next exit (and how prayer works -- I was praying loudly, to get us off the interstate while cars were whizzing past) --- we got off the interstate and  almost off the exit ramp. 
  • We also learned social etiquette tips, such as do not announce "I smell something really horrible" while standing next to an obviously intoxicated gentleman when we had to wait at a McDonald's at one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. Thank goodness they did notice the woman with her head down on the table in the back of the restaurant wearing a tube top, mini-skirt, heels, and no undies (evidently in her sleepy state, she had decided to stretch out her legs). I'm not quite ready for that practical life discussion!
  • Grandpa informed us after they picked us up that we were right across from the hotel that had the greatest number of murders that year. Of course, my husband had left the day earlier to get to his new job and wasn't there to enjoy the fun!   
  • We learned how it is important to stay far away from the road and traffic while walking to a safer destination.
  • We learned how to offer a good apology for blocking the gas pump of the filling station when our van died in front of it.
  • We learned that complaining and whining only makes the situation worse, that using your energy to figure out how you can take care of your self and get yourself out of the situation is a much more effective use of your energy. We also learned that complaining makes mom grouchy!
The most important thing I believe they have learned is that life is not always smooth. I had tried to shelter my children from the negative aspects of life. So much, that I began to see a trend in their inability to handle unplanned, or disappointing situations. I do not like seeing my children unhappy or disappointed, but it is part of life. We had something fun planned when each of the events happened. While we were not able to proceed at the time, we still tried to make each adventure as unpleasant as it could be... while I told them and reassured myself "at least we are spending time together and we are safe." 

While my children are still a little young to really absorb everything we learned, I do think that it helped set a foundation for our future. I will try to not shelter them from every negative thing and make sure I model how I am handling the situation out loud so they will be able to see problem-solving skills in real-life situations. Hopefully, our adventures with Old Christine will have been valuable for something when I look back on this 10 years from now!


  1. Excellent way of teaching your children how to handle the unexpected. Kids are honest I am laughing out loud about the comment that they smelled something horrible. I hope you were able to fix your transportation problem. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing! It appears that you are taking it all in stride. It is good to teach children about the "bumps in the road" too! It will make them more well rounded and capable in the long run. Hope you have a good week! Kerri

  3. Learning to remain calm and think things through rationally is a skill not everyone has! Kudos to you!

    (I would have been swearing profusely and saying things like, "Kids, Mommy is very unhappy so please don't ask me any questions until I figure this out." I might even haev growled at them when they ignored me.)


  4. Visiting you and now following from Fun Follow Friday :)
    Hope you'll follow me too @

    Jeanette :)