Teaching life skills (Like accepting help!)

My daughter is getting married next week and I don’t have anything to wear. Cue stop at Kohl’s which apparently barely carries dresses, but that is another subject entirely. That’s just why I ended up in Kohl’s parking lot with my two younger daughters watching my tire deflate before us.

Literally. It was like a birthday balloon hissing at us. The valve decided to fail right there while the side door was opening and we just stood there watching the car sink, feeling like there should be some way to make it stop.

Everyone should know how to change a tire. Girls included. It’s just one of those important life skills. I don’t know if our culture is changing, or if it is just because I am in my forties. Back in college, I didn’t have to call people for help with things like dead batteries and flat tires. Within 15 minutes, some kindly gentleman would stop to see if I needed help. Even if I didn’t actually need it.

This same woman at forty something with a car load of kids cannot get a single person to stop and offer to jump my car outside of a busy grocery store. You cannot depend on help anymore.

And no one wants to spend the night in Kohl’s parking lot with a flat tire. So everyone needs to know how to change a flat tire. Maybe especially girls.

This was a great opportunity to teach my girls a few life lessons alongside changing a tire.

Lesson 1: Everything you need is right here.

Every car is different, but the stuff for the jack is usually all together. It’s true for most problems. The trick is knowing where to look.

Lesson 2: Everything is multi-purpose.

Also, there are no directions. It may take some time, but there are essentially three tools you need to change the tire: the jack, the lug wrench and something to pop off the hub cap. You will most likely have to use these tools separately and then put them all together to build your jack.

Lesson 3: You can figure it out.

Remember that. It helps, because you might think you can’t and give up. But it isn’t that hard, it’s just unfamiliar. Never confuse unfamiliar with impossible. See lesson 1. It’s all here and it is like a puzzle. This, again, goes for most problems in life.

Lesson 4: Lug nuts are a pain.

Our lug nuts are rounded off. We could not get them off. I called my husband only to find out he wasn’t due in until the next day. Because walking over to Burger King and waiting there was sounding good until I found out it would be a 24 hour wait. He told me to hit the lug wrench onto the lug nuts and it should help. We did. And it did.


Take a deep breath. Find your happy place. Something. It does not do anyone any good to lose your temper and kick your car off the jack or send the lug wrench through your window. Even when you realize that the lug nut will not come out of the lug wrench you banged onto it so you could get it off the tire in the first place.

So now just picture me and two of my daughters sitting in Kohl’s parking lot with all the necessary tools for changing a tire laid out before us while we bang the lug nut on the asphalt trying to knock it loose. I felt like the proverbial cave man banging on rocks and making about as much progress.

Lesson 6: You may know how to change a tire, but that gentleman with the mechanic uniform looks awfully nice . . .

If help arrives, don’t be too proud to accept it. Be discerning. Keep some distance between you. Make sure you are visible to passers-by. Keep an eye on your helper. He’ll probably need the lug wrench, but that little metal bar that pops hub caps off would make a nice welt. Always be aware of your surroundings . . .

At any rate, this gentleman took my lug-nut-jammed-lug-wrench and put the lug nut back on the car and took it back off, this time free from its lug wrench prison. That totally never would have occurred to me and this gentleman did not even have to think about it. Like he’s done it before or something. Pride is no replacement for experience. Accept help if it is offered. Mechanics are amazing.

Lesson 7: Know that you could have done it yourself. Eventually.

After all, my 12 year old did get one lug nut off. If you can get one off, you can get all of them off. And if you can get them off, you can get them on. That is all there really is to changing a tire. That and figuring out how to put the jack together, WHICH THE THREE OF US DID DO! But if you balance a few minutes of chatting with a stranger while you hand him tools against hitting a lug nut on the asphalt until another idea pops into your head, accepting the help will likely win out. Every. Single. Time.

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