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Local

Tales From the Motherhood: Automotive repair teaches more than just mechanical smarts

Repair of a Volkswagen Beetle fosters virtue in columnist's son

“We made a lot of progress last night,” Noah said, of the rough patch he and his buddy John apparently came through in their work on the old yellow Volkswagen bug given to Noah by his grandparents last summer (which now lays scattered in pieces, a few of them rusty, on my garage floor. Ha. I wonder if I’ll ever get to park in there again?). It was a conundrum that left them scratching their heads. Literally.

Oh, the defeated looks on the boys’ faces as they sat outside the garage one night, greasy hands on temples as they wondered how to solve an apparently unsolvable problem (something about making this thing fit into that thing that it just didn’t want to fit into, I think) – but they sorted it all out somehow. Between John’s experience refurbishing his own car and Noah’s penchant for rising to a challenge, I figured they would.

“Wonderful!” I said.

“Yeah, it took patience, not getting pissed off, and not being too tired,” he said.

Hear, hear! And, well, isn’t that something? I’m grateful beyond measure for the gift of many lessons this project is giving this young man. Lessons in patience, on keeping a clear head when faced with a challenge, and on resting enough to deal with it all.

Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa D! A priceless gift! A gift that that keeps on giving, though – greasy handprints on the back door, on the walls of the stairwell and black smudges on the fridge. Oh, and then there’s the epoch ring of dirt around my tub, and the smears of grease all over it. I kid you not, I could do a forensic analysis of Noah’s movements and track his path through the house most days. As fun as that sounds, he’s gotta clean it up.

Maybe I’ll call Grandpa DuBose, recently retired from his welding job of more than 50 years, and ask what he used to degrease his hands? Yeah, that’s the ticket. I admit, though, as vexing as the fingerprints are, they do make me smile. Noah’s having a ball. He’s learning to manage a big project, and maneuvering a tight budget while poring over his car parts catalogue like a gardener plotting precious heirloom seed purchases and maintaining an important piece of family history. I remember the grin on his face the first time he sat behind the wheel of this car, not long after he learned to walk.

Ahh! OK, but he’s still gotta scrub the tub. And the back door. Time for a come-to-Jesus meeting with my kid, I think. So how will I deal? Patience, not getting pissed off, and not being too tired. Got it.

Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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