The Husband and I have just finalized a deal to purchase a house. (To read about one of the more dramatic adventures of our search, go here.) In the process, we’ve had to do all sorts of things that we’ve never had to do before. We didn’t have the faintest clue how to tackle some of these things: how to best negotiate the terms of a mortgage, or what to look for in a real estate agent, or how to read a co-ownership agreement.
Along the way, someone said to The Husband, “Buying a house is one of those situations where you have to become an expert in something that you might do once, maybe twice, in your life.” And this is true. But there are some simple and not-so-simple things that most of us are going to have to do in life that we don’t learn about in school.
For example, the house that we finally found – a house that we totally love – is old. It has some problems that will need to be fixed. We will need to call an electrician, and a mason, and a contractor. The electrician and the mason – well, fine. But why is it that we feel the need to pay someone to install gyproc over the exposed insulation? Surely that’s a fairly straightforward task? For heaven’s sake, I was even talking about paying someone to paint. I’ll have plenty of time to paint – I’ll be on summer vacation – but I wasn’t confident I could do a proper job. I’ve come around on that one, but not because I’m sure I can do it right. I’ve come around because I should know how to paint walls, and woodwork, and bannisters, and so I should practice.
Why don’t we learn things like home repair in school? I know, there’s woodshop or industrial arts or whatever it’s called these days, but it’s not the same. Beyond that, why don’t we learn the principles of designing a kitchen or tending a garden? Most people will own homes at some point. Most people would be better off if they could install a faucet or properly deal with a musty dryer (a task we found ourselves faced with this weekend, as though the universe is prepping us for the days ahead, when we won’t be able to call the landlord about ANYTHING.)
What else should be taught in school, but isn’t, at least in the schools you’ve attended? Things that immediately come to my mind: meditation, cell phone etiquette (etiquette in general, for that matter) and how to counsel a troubled friend. What do you wish you knew that no one ever taught you?
Image by Sanja Gjenero