My Dad taught me a lot of different lessons when I was but a wee genius. Some lessons he had to teach me over and over, like the one about the consequences for hitting my younger brother. Other lessons, I only needed to learn once like how to break in to a suburban house without a security system. Some lessons, I am still learning.
My brother is only two years younger than me and we have been basically the same size since as far back as I can remember. Except for his feet. His feet have always been size 14. When he came out of my mom, the doctor shit himself at the size of his feet. My brother was sleep-walking three days later. I have never been an intimidating figure to my younger brother and this has resulted in a number of fights that should have ended with my brother being pummeled and hung by his underwear. Instead, we just fought until my Dad got involved and then I got spanked for fighting. Being a genius, I tried to gain advantage by using tools, as I had seen many nature programs* and knew that tool use is what separates chimps from leopard food. It is enough to say that using a tool in a fight ends with a much more severe punishment. My father was never one to withhold a deserved spanking but he never used a belt. This is a lesson that sinks in only as I write this post.
My father taught me how to be mostly self-sufficient. My parents locked me out of the house for most of my middle school years because my Dad thought I wasn't responsible enough to keep a set of keys, even though both he and mom worked past my school hours. My Dad was not the most responsible guy either because he kept leaving the work shop unlocked until the fifth time I used his tools to break into the house during a rain storm.** After he started locking the workshop, I used his ladders to open the window in my parents bathroom which I knew could never be locked until he finished fixing it.*** I also learned how to cover my tracks by immediately replacing the ladder and closing the window.
My father taught me how to fix a lot of problems around a typical domecile. I watched him re-shingle our house and subsequently learned to be someplace else when Dad was working on the roof.**** I helped him build our workshop and learned a lot about drywall. It is both heavier and more fragile than it first appears. I learned that small jobs frequently become larger jobs once you are finished with the exploratory surgery on, say, the peeling paint on your bathroom door. I learned that a good job requires hard work and that hard work is never easy because good is not spelled e-a-s-y. Or c-h-e-a-p. I learned that electricity flows like water but the two like each other maybe too much. I learned that mowing other people's lawns for cash was the best way to get said cash and also kept me away from the house when my father was working on the roof. I learned that sometimes, you have to dismantle a '70s orange Volvo in your front yard before the neighbors get the hint about asking you to mow your lawn. I also learned that your wife will never forget this. I learned that sometimes a real lemon of a car can still last you 100,000 miles. I also learned that Peugeot station wagons are surprisingly good at off-road driving.*****
Dad, I'll see you soon and I am eager to see what I am going to learn next.
*Wild America < Nature < Steve Irwin
**Step One: Check for open basement windows. Step Two: Check for open ground floor windows. Step Three: Older windows (70 years or so) can be open with a prybar or a durable screwdriver, but will leave tracks. I recommend a shim or other extremely thin tool like a metal ruler to unlock the swivel-lock-doohickey by sliding it between the upper and lower windows. Disclaimer: only use this to gain entry to your own house in a rainstorm. Do not burglarize people's houses, that isn't right.
***I think this was an obtuse lesson in priorities. Second floor bathroom windows are less important than, say, front doors, kitchens, electrical wiring, and insulation.
****Shingles are a BITCH to clean up from the yard, especially after your father starts whipping them into the ground like throwing knives.
*****Some sedans are, too: Dodge Neons and Dodge Spirits, in particular.