Someone I know, not quite a proper friend, since I haven’t seen him in donkey’s years and we never got to know one another terribly well, but someone I keep in touch with on social media and actually properly met in real life years ago, well, this person recently asked people to tell him things their dad had taught them.
And I said “That you can fix anything if you rummage in the garage long enough….”
Which meant, I realised, that basically my dad helped to teach me resourcefulness. And in writing it down I realised what a great skill resourcefulness is.
I shouldn’t overlook my mum here either, as she was a dab hand fixing other types of things by rummaging in other types of places. Dad fixed broken go-carts, holey shoes, the house, the car, the old inner tubes he picked up for free on the way on holiday, and which we then floated down freezing English rivers on. Mostly with stuff found in the garage. Mum fixed missing buttons, holes in clothes, too-large hand-me-downs, things for costumes and blind cuddly toys by rummaging in her sewing box and old trunk of fabric and bits. Or sometimes by cutting up one of dad’s old shirts!
Make do and mend
They were war kids, my parents, and they learnt from our grandparents to ‘make do and mend’. And they learnt on the hoof too – they didn’t have Sylvanians Families, a host of action figures or even Lego. They had to make it up. Invent. Make do. And when it broke, mend it.
Back then I don’t suppose anyone often had ‘the thing’ to fix stuff… Very likely they couldn’t even have got ‘the thing’ (the right glue, perfect zip, matching button etc) without a war going on… you had to be resourceful & ingenious, and they were.
So that’s just the way they are, and that’s they way I am too. Of course if I can find the matching button among the ones at my favourite haberdashers, or on ebay, I’ll get it. But only after I’ve rummaged first.
There’s a great sense of satisfaction in MacGyvering something. I love it. I love the whole thing. The looking at the problem, the working out what size the hole is, how wide the bit was, can the head come off? The whatsit be pushed aside? The thingamyjig be taken off and put back on? Is it glueable? Uhu, Evo-Stik, Araldite (Dad’s go-to glue) or Stormsure? Metal coathanger, wooden skewer, that odd bit of wire we’ve got in the toolbox or that chunk of wood I saw in the garden? Do we need a vice? (now it’s getting exciting!).
See – just writing this I’m thinking,
“Is there something in my fixing pile? In the fixing drawer? A little job waiting, just so I can feel invincible?”
I really recommend it. Resourcefulness rocks.
Making do in the kitchen too
There’s no such thing, fortunately for us, as a day when there’s nothing in the cupboard. The cupboards might not look exciting some days, and the fridge may be a little bare (we are not a family who lives with a constantly rammed fridge and we throw very little food away), but I love creating a dinner with whatever is left. Often it’s a lot more interesting that what we’ve had for the previous few days. Because I made something up that was different. I had to finally pull out that black quinoa and the smoked tofu, and that funny jar of something someone brought last Christmas. And I have to work out a way to combine things so they turn out better than just edible. At least, in my opinion – can’t say the kids always agree, but hey ho!
The bin as the last resort
The point of make do and mend is also valuing your things. And valuing our planet. If a doll’s head comes off I’ll glue that thing back on many times before I’ll give up and admit it’s end of lifed. In fact there is only the one doll who’s head has come off, and I’m still thinking about it. Maybe I can use a double-ended screw? Surely such a thing exists… Pesky little Polly Pockets…
I really think trying to mend things is important.
What do you do when things break? Who inspires you to fix stuff? And what’s your top tip?
Two of mine are:
From Dad: If the threads in a hole are stripped and the screw is just going round and round, stuff some match sticks in there, and then put the screw back.
Passed on from another Dad: If the top of the Phillips screw is mashed and the screwdriver can’t turn, get a wide elastic band and place one part of it on top of the screw, push down on that with your screw driver, and hey presto.
Thanks for visiting. Feel free to comment and do share your own make-do-and-mend tips. I currently live with my family in France. We spent some time living not at all near many shops and in a very small flat, which forced me to be resourceful and tap into some old lessons. I’m hanging onto that, because it felt good.