Posted by: njs44 | January 16, 2010

Domestic Science

When I was at school we did Domestic Science. One term of cooking, one of sewing and one which I think was called Home Economics when we were taught to weigh up the pros and cons of buying various labour-saving devices. It amazes me that I can still remember the lesson when we were asked to rate items according to their usefulness. At the bottom of the list came the electric toothbrush, an item that we considered frivolous and totally unnecessary. Little did I know that I would one day own one of these things and that it pleases my dentist no end that I use it every day.

In cookery we learnt to follow recipes, a skill I still find useful to this day. One week we made Brown Stew which was fine, except that I had not thought to take a sealed container with me to bring it home. Instead I carried it in a casserole dish with a loose lid and the gravy leaked all over the plastic bag I carried it in. Tupperware products were all the rage at that time, so it was surprising that I had not envisaged the need for such wonders that day.

In sewing we learnt to make simple garments, like an apron with a pocket and our names embroidered on the front. Later we progressed to more complicated things and were taught to use Simplicity patterns. I made a tennis dress, not because I liked tennis, but because it was the easiest garment to make as it had no sleeves. I did not enjoy sewing, but I can still do it, if I have to.

Yesterday my younger daughter came to me with a pair of trousers she had just bought and which needed taking up. As we measured the length and I started to tack them, she admitted to me that she could not sew at all. I am not sure how this information had previously escaped me. How did she miss out on learning this vital skill? She is 22 years old and cannot sew. I thought about her school days, and realised that she had done modern things, like Resistant Materials. She made a wooden frame for a mirror, a plastic key-ring, and I seem to recall a Lamp Shade came into it somewhere. But no sewing. She learnt to cook, largely from necessity, when she went away to University. She has, she claims, even taught one of her housemates to cook. But sewing – forget it!

At some stage I think I will need to teach her myself. I do not look forward to this as previous efforts to teach her things have ended in tears. I still feel queasy at the memory of the times I tried to help her with her Maths homework. But suddenly I remember that her sister took Textiles as her GCSE Technology option. So she can teach her to sew. Phew!

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