Sew’s Your Old Man

Yellow_flowers

2014-08-14 – There. I just finished sewing a couple of seams. One was in a pair of pants and one was in a backpack. They seem pretty strong and they are reasonably straight and unobtrusive, but not perfect. I do it by hand, since I don’t have a working sewing machine. For some reason, I see the stitches better without my glasses, so I work without them. It’s the only thing I do without glasses . . . with my clothes on.

Okay, let’s get our minds out of the gutter. I was talking about something wholesome here.

What we’re doing is getting my first-born son Nat ready to leave for college. I learned to sew in school—seventh and eighth grade home ec. Yes, the boys did it, too. It was mandatory. We learned how to sew and cook. One semester each year. The other semester was wood shop. The girls did that, too. It was part of the skills our school thought we would need as adults. They don’t teach home ec or shop anymore. They teach you how to manage money. Presumably, no one cooks or does woodwork or sews anymore. They pay someone else to do it.

Or ask their dad.

Nat is older than the out-of-high-school college freshman. He took four years off and went to culinary school and then worked in a couple of the top restaurants in Chicago before deciding to go back. His younger brother Cal is a junior in college, so when Nat goes away this week, we will be empty nesters.

Nat wants to be a doctor. My response was, “Why not! You already have the white coats and knives.”

I say this a lot. People think this is a joke. But working as a chef has a lot in common with being a doctor. The work is meticulous and demanding. The hours are horrendous and the work is hard. And, if you’re doing something more than flipping burgers (which he was), you need a deep understanding of the physical and chemical processes involved.

Nat always wanted to be a doctor, but he took a detour because he wasn’t sure if he was ready for college when he graduated high school. I wasn’t ready at that age either (though I could sew a seam). He tried cooking and was good at it. (I would have gone to Vietnam.) It was a great decision to go to culinary school. And it is a great decision to go to college now (whether he sticks with the idea of medicine or finds something new).

The thing that makes these decisions so great is that he made them on his own. He’s grown to be a capable young man. I don’t have to do these things for him. I just sew a torn seam when he asks me to.

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