You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

I don’t want to just hand you the tools.

Kid 2

Dad has done what he does for a very long time (he’s 90 and still doing it), but he never wanted to teach. He always told his alma mater, “I didn’t spend (X) years doing (this) to teach it, I did it do (this).” He doesn’t have the temperament to be a teacher.

Because of this, as children when we tried to help him with a project, “helping” dad devolved into passing him his tools and cleaning up.

This was frustrating to me, because I always thought I could help, with some guidance, some instruction. Unfortunately, I did learn something from him, which was that children were a hindrance, suitable only for handing you your tools. Which is why kid 2 started declining to help me with home projects.

The thing is, I am a teacher, and a damned good one; for 7 years I made my living, in part, teaching Engineers how to drive their CAD systems, even creating and teaching a University course.

Having kid 2 point out he wasn’t helping me do the project, that he wasn’t actually learning anything was a wake up call.

Today I had to replace a bathroom faucet, and when I asked kid 2 if he wanted to help he said, “Yes.”


Because I learned that

  1. Teaching the boys to really help only slows the job down a little.
  2. They’re proud to tell their Mumby that they helped fix her bathroom sink.

As I try to reinvent myself at this late stage of life, I am constantly coming back to the adage:

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Maybe that works for dogs, but for people? It’s bullshit.

I’m 55, and in the process of reinventing most of my life.