Have enough sense to know, ahead of time, when your skills will not extend to wallpapering. ~ Marilyn vos Savant
I find myself in the rather awkward position of having to teach a person everything he needs to know to be a functional member of society. This is pretty funny (not ha ha funny, more weird funny) because I myself am only quasi-functional as an adult. Thank god or luck or Loki or whoever that I have Loving Husband, because otherwise this poor child would be doomed.
Nevertheless, I’m going to do my damnedest to teach my son all the skills that I have gained over my years of existence — at least, all the ones I’ve found to be useful. I’ll teach him to drive a manual transmission, to boil an egg, and to write bullshit in a way that gets A’s out of English teachers.
But a lot of what I know really isn’t all that useful. I can imitate accents really well, which is useful only in certain very specific circumstances. I can intelligently compare the Elder Scrolls games to D&D-based computer RPGs (anybody else notice that Skyrim’s Blackreach is really just the Underdark with no Driders?) I can unerringly find and fall in love with the single most expensive item in any shop, even when there are no prices marked. And even mean cats kinda like me.
So I’ll teach Baby what I know, not all of which will be useful, but at least it’ll be an interesting skill set. Thing is, I’d really also like him to know a few things that I really, really don’t. Here are a few of them.
How to play a musical instrument. I played snare drum in my middle school band for three years, and I took guitar lessons for a couple of years in high school, but I just have zero talent for music. I can sing fairly inoffensively, but I can’t read a note of music beyond the rhythm. I’d really like Baby to be able to play a real musical instrument. He can always start on my disused guitar. It could use the exercise.
How to throw a football. Now, here’s something that he’s not going to learn from either parent. I know how to throw a rugby ball (having dated a couple of rugby players back in the day — fairly out of character for me, but hey, I got a skill out of it) but that won’t be really useful in middle school gym class. Good hand-eye coordination is always good to have, right?
How to make friends. I’m so bad at this. The more I want to be friends with a person, the more likely I am to be completely silent in their presence. True story: I once had someone say to me, “Man, when I met you I thought you were such a bitch! But now that I know you better I think you’re pretty cool.” I never learned this skill as a child, and I’ve been working on it through my entire adult life. I’d really like for my Baby to learn it less painfully.
How to whistle. This is something that I’ve always wanted to be able to do, but I just. Can’t. I mean, I can sometimes make some tuneless noise come out, but otherwise nada. Actually, the whistle that I’d REALLY love to be able to do (if I had to choose one kind) would be that super loud piercing whistle produced by putting your fingers in your mouth. Or to your lips. Or something. See? I have no idea.
How to speak a foreign language (well). I’m actually pretty good with foreign languages — up to a point. Since I can imitate accents so well, I have beautiful pronunciation. But I’m not so great with anything else. This becomes an issue when you pronounce “Hello, I’d like one kilo of oranges, please,” so beautifully that people try to strike up a conversation with you, and all you can say back is, “Thank you, I feel well. Where is the toilet?” So even though I speak a little German, a little Italian, and a tiny smidgeon of Russian, I speak none of them well. I’d really like Baby to be able to get beyond my level of, “Sure, I sound great, but I have no fucking idea what you’re saying.”
How math works. I’m more of a verbal kinda girl. I think this speaks for itself. Loving Husband will be useful here. He has mad math skillz, yo.
How airplanes stay up. For this, we clearly need to get him in touch with a Muggle. And also a physicist. As far as I’m concerned, it’s magic, just like electricity and magnets.
I just want my kid to be better than me, you know? Smarter, savvier, and more well-adjusted. What sort of things do you want your kids to know, but you can’t teach them?