The first bible character I ever felt a strong connection to was Jacob. I felt like I could understand a young man who was best described by his family as someone who “dwells in tents”. As if his father was trying to describe his sons and was like, “Esau hunts and is brave. He kills animals and cooks them on the fire out in the wilderness. My younger son though… how do I put this… He dwells in tents.” And I could get that. I could picture this young man huddled on the heater vent under a blanket reading G.I.Joe comics. I feel sad for Jacob, knowing that he was unfortunately born a few thousand years too early and would have probably loved computers. And that was me.
Sure, I’m an engineer, but when I had a chance to take Auto Shop my senior year in High School, I signed up for another Home Ec course instead. Would you like me to make you some fuzzy dice? Because I can do that. How about I whip up a milkshake or bake a small loaf of bread? Just don’t ask me to pick up a socket set and open the hood of a car.
So, it was a big deal a few weeks ago when I decided to replace my own spark plugs, and an even bigger deal when, after finding the spark plug wells filled with oil, I set out to replace my valve cover gasket. I felt like an impostor standing in my driveway next to a tool box, getting grease and oil up to my elbows, waving at the neighbors as they drove by, and pretending I actually knew what I was doing while secretly watching How-to videos on my phone propped up nearby.
I decided that I wasn’t going to let my children suffer the same fate as their father, so I called for the kids to come out into the driveway with me while I explained the different parts of the engine, and what we were doing to fix them. Gideon was immediately distracted by a ball. While I was still explaining to him how an engine runs on gasoline he kicked the ball into the yard and chased after it. He never returned after that. Lydia sat on the front bumper of the car and listened quietly, staring into the garage. A little while later she politely interrupted me mid sentence to ask to go ride the bicycle she had been looking at the whole time. This left only Clara who attempted to turn bolts with a screwdriver and happily rubbed at everything with a dirty cloth.
I purposely dropped a few small parts through a hole onto the pavement, and then asked her to climb under the car and retrieve them. But after my second time doing this she was bored and I was forced to retrieve them myself. When I came back up, I glanced around the garage desperately looking for something that could distract her while I tried to figure out what I was doing with my engine.
“Clara, could you gather up all the bikes, and bring them here please.”
She lined them up behind me in a neat little row, including the one that Lydia had recently discarded in the driveway.
I then handed her a bicycle pump and explained how to pump up each of the tires to the proper air pressure. She set to work immediately, and about an hour later when I was finishing up the last of my engine repairs, I looked over my shoulder to see that she was on the final tire.
I sat down in the driver’s seat and turned the key. She peddled her bike down the driveway to the street. Both of us cheered in triumph.
That evening she placed her hand in mine and thanked me for teaching her how to work on bicycle tires.
“You are very welcome,” I said. “Thank you for helping me work on my car.”
She nodded, deep in thought. “You know. I have an idea. I think I’m going to add a sign to my Lemonade Stand now that says, ‘Also $1 to pump bicycle tires.” I watched her curiously. She stared at the wall and continued, “I mean all of the neighbor kids ride bikes all the time, and I bet they don’t know how to work on them. So, that would be a good business for this area, right?”
I pat her on the shoulder and agreed. “Or you could, you know, just pump their tires for them for free. because they are your friends.”
“Yeah…” she said, “But I bet they would give me a dollar for it, if I asked.”
“True,” I sighed. I simply wanted to teach my daughter a thing or two about cars. I never expected her to actually start her own repair shop.