The Fix-it Gals

    SOPHIA - 24


 Synopsis:   When a five-year-old faces a Terrorist on the street, what does she do?  She calls for "Fix-It G-Ma," Sentinel of Fix-It Vigilance.  Five-year-old Sarah is threatened by a sharp piece of metal on a New York City sidewalk, extruding from the railing of an apartment.   To protect her and other children, G-Ma Lori comes to the rescue with her Pliers of Vigilance, twisting the sharp Terror Shard into submissiveness, freeing the land once more for the Children's Children's Children.  What lesson does this provide?  It reminds Sarah, and all little girls, that being a "Fix-It Gal" is an act of Vigilance, something that provides her with Courage, Conviction and the ability to take the Right Actions.    Are you a Fix-It Gal?   Can you turn adversity into advantage?  Or, are you a victim of  "Can't Fix-It Terrorism?"   Find out why you should be a Fix-It Gal, and teach others how to be the same.




      “G-MA, Shalala’s head came off agin’, and her tail is loose.  Will you help me glue her?”  Sarah, waved the two pieces of her favorite dinosaur, a Pachycephalosaurus, to emphasize the urgency.  

Shalala lost her head and needs a fix-it gal ASAP

      I glued Shalala’s tail and head together too many times to count.  The dinosaur’s long, curving neck and slender tail made her susceptible to breakage, especially since in the last two months Sarah’s 11- month - old brother, Angus, learned to walk and grab.  Angus chose poor Shalala as his balance partner. He clutched her precariously as he waddled around his small apartment, weaving here and there like a bumper car in a tiny rink, banging the dinosaur on every solid object with which he made contact as though it were a blind baby’s walking stick.
      “You bet, little one.  I’ll put her up on the tippy top shelf of your bookcase until I have time to fix it.”  I gently took Shalala along with her detached head and tail, climbed up on a chair and placed them on the highest bookshelf.  This was the special “fix it” spot where anything needing repair was parked.
      “G-Ma, you and mommy are the best ‘fix-it gals’ in the world.  You just fix and fix and fix!  I’m going to be a ‘fix-it gal’ too.”  Sarah gave me one of her oh-so-special-Sarah squeezes that makes your heart melt and the sun shine even if it’s a dark, rainy day.
      “You surely, are, little ‘fix-it-gal’.  You already are one.  Let’s see…. you’ve helped fix a few things already.      Hmmmmmm……..”    I sat down on the couch with my ‘pearl of a girl’ and we both smiled at each other.

An example of sharp and dangerous edge on the black fence needing services of a fix-it gal

         “Yes……” simultaneously  we grabbed each other’s hands and yelled, “the black fence.”  We were not only grandmother and granddaughter, but also partners, buddies and pals.  I deferred to Sarah’s memory.  She was thinking of the same projects in which she had participated as a “fix-it” girl.   I loved listening to her tell her side of any story.

Fix-it gal, Sarah,  in action

          “G-Ma? ‘Member the time you let me use your special long and nosy pliers to bend the sharp and so v-e-e-r-r-r-y dangerous part of the black fence near my school.  You carried your pliers around in your purse to my school for lots of days and finally remembered you had them.  I’m so-o-o-o-o glad we fixed that silly fence ‘cuz he was going to scratch me.  Now I can squeeze into my special spot without bleeding.”  Sarah cocked her head and shrugged smiling at me, her histrionic way of ending sentences these days as she approached her fifth birthday.    I was sure she would one day be an actress or public speaker, for she had a riveting way of making her point to all who listened.
      “Yes, I did forget to bring my long-nosed special pliers and I was certain that mean old fence was going to hurt you when you squeezed your precious self into the curly part of it.  And I’m glad I remembered.”
        Sarah readjusted herself on my lap, her big brown eyes looking deep into me.  I continued, “You know, dear one, the fence is an ‘it’.  Not a ‘he’.” Sarah is continually waging a small ongoing battle with the opposite sex,  and any time she can make the “bad guy” a guy, she does.

Apprentice fix-it gal Sarah  applying glue to her dinosaur 

      “Right, G-Ma.  Maybe now we can bring some black paint and paint the fence too.”  Her chocolate chip cookie-sized eyes sparkled as she expanded on the project.
      “Oh, no you don’t, you rascal.  G-Ma’s not painting anyone else’s property.  We probably shouldn’t have monkied around with fixing another’s fence.  But it was easier to fix it ourselves than contact the owner of the building to do it. Remember G-Ma’s special saying, ‘If you want it done right away …..’”
      “…do it yourself…” Sarah stridently chimed in the ending, tossing her head as she did to emphasize her glee.  
      When Sarah was learning the alphabet, almost every time I walked her to and from pre-school during her first year, I would very precisely and loudly call out a letter.  She would repeat the letter after me in the same manner.  Now, as a result, whenever she talks in public, her Voice booms as though she were on a stage projecting to the last row.   Her projection is somewhat of a concern to her parents, so solicitous to everyone’s privacy.   Sarah invades their audio privacy with her New York street phonetics. I’m a peahen, unbothered and extremely proud of my little parrot’s diction and vocabulary.   Sarah will be heard by all whenever she speaks up in life.   I’ve “fixed it” that way.
      We sat on the cozy futon couch.  When we share our adventures, we are comfortable with one another and any unusual silence existing between us.  It’s as though we are both plotting the next adventure.  I knew the quiet wouldn’t last since my huggable bird is an active and noisy creature.  True to keeping, she burst out of my hug like a beautiful flower bud exploding into bloom.   Her sun-streaked hair flew around her neck like the sun’s rays spearing through rain clouds as she tipped her head backwards and performed her latest gymnastic move, a backbend, taking up a good portion of the small living room’s limited tumbling space.
      “Look at this, G-Ma.  I did it ‘per-fect-ly’, perfectly, PERFECTLY!.”  Sarah repeated the word emphatically to impress me.  She knows which strings to pluck to make her G-Ma’s heart strings sing.

Sarah on the bars  with an audience

       “I see, Sarah.   I love the way you taught your brother some of the great gym moves you learned in your class at Chelsea Piers.   You are a fine teacher.”  I emphasized the vowels and consonants, my way of modeling enunciation for her.
       Sarah showed her almost seven-year-old brother, Matt, how to correctly perform  forward and backward somersaults.  She included a difficult ‘almost headstand’ and how to climb and swing on the monkey bars at the park.  He hasn’t yet mastered copying her beautifully performed  back bend, the one gymnastic movement I was able to perform with alacrity when I was her age.
      As I finished the words, “You are a fine teacher,” Sarah swirled about and faced me, putting her hands on her hips to admonish me.
      “No, G-Ma, you are the teacher.  You taught Mommy to be a ‘fix-it gal’ and you are teaching me to be one.  And I’ll teach my girls to be one, too.”  Sarah sat cross-legged on the floor and gave me the thumbs up.  Again, she struck the right string and I felt angel’s wings growing on my back.
      She deftly jumped up and started spinning around the room singing “Fix-it it gals, fixit gals, we are the fixit gals……”
      Laughing, I joined her.   We held hands and carefully twirled about the small room so we wouldn’t knock into anything.  We were partners in clumsiness, the result of our eagerness to celebrate and experiment.  Sarah sported bruises up and down her long legs.  When I was her age, I shared the same ‘battle scars’ from taking life on.   She, like I, was fearless to attempt just about any physical act.
      The apartment door crashed open and the dynamic duo—Sarah’s two brothers—Matt and Angus, burst through and squelched our fix-it gal serenity. 
     “Hey, guys, keep it down,” admonished their fun-loving mom who was quick on their heels.
      “G-Ma, the parachute on my Rescue Hero broke.  Can you fix it?  Now?  Angus grabbed it from me and I want to rescue the rescuer.  Get it, G-Ma?”
      Matt is so much like his Daddy – clever, with quick humorous quips.  He is continually rewording phrases and rethinking old jokes to come up with new, funny ones.  As Sarah is fearless about exploring the physical world, Matt is just as fearless when it comes to words and phrases.

Is the fix-it gene hereditary?

       I just finished reading “What Makes You Who You Are” in the June 2, 2003 Time Magazine.  The crux of the article is really ‘the same old, same old’; i.e. that genes and experience interact for one’s whole life. However, I did learn that Matt’s promoter gene (that he received from his daddy) was most likely turned on in the womb and plussed by his environment.   Genes are both the cause and the consequence of his (and our) actions, the article claims. His mom and dad enjoy humor and encourage Matt’s funny jokes.  So he continues to get validation from them and other family members (like his G-Ma and G-Pa who value the quickness of mind to that of hand and foot.).
      The article in Time made me ponder the differences between brother and sister. Matt’s disinterest in ‘fixing’ things and Sarah’s distinct interest could be genetic as well I mulled.  However, in fairness to Matt and Sarah’s daddy, Daddy J wasn’t ‘given the tools’ or perhaps shown the best fix-it techniques as he was growing up.  In New York City, where their father was raised, building superintendents made all the repairs.  In contrast, their mommy was raised in a ‘do it yourself’ house.  Mommy S’s parents (G-Pa and myself) imparted the handiwork on to her.  Subsequently she has become an incredible fix-it gal and mom.
     She’s even a builder and has constructed bookcases and shelves for the apartment.  In her teenage years, she went to Mexico and helped build houses for the poor, from pouring the concrete to framing and roofing.   While the guys were drinking beer, she was sawing and nailing.
       In New York, when she decided to build special bookshelves, she searched the lumber stores for the best deals and brought home all the supplies on foot.  In the City, this is no small task.  I remember the excitement hauling home building materials piled on Matt’s stroller, who was a toddler at the time.  Matt pretended the largest slab of wood was the wing section of his stroller-turned-airplane.   We had a wild time maneuvering through the thick hoards of New York City pedestrian traffic. Matt in his unwieldy vehicle careened through the crowds shouting “Faster! Faster mommy!” like a General Patton commando demanding his tanks move faster to save Bastogne.
     It seems as if my older daughter constructs a new addition to the apartment whenever there is a new child added to her family.  The latest construction project is a large (8 feet high, 30 inches wide and 18 inches deep) structure to hold all the family games.  It was on this project,  completed when Angus was born, that Sarah learned how to use the electric drill under careful supervision, of her hammer-and-nail oriented mother.
     As Matt and Angus flooded into the room, Sarah was quick to remind him who was in charge of fixing dinosaurs.
     “Matt, G-Ma is fixing Shalala first.  G-Ma will put your ‘chute up on the bookcase in her fix-it place,” she spouted.  Sarah marched officiously toward Matt to extract Perry Chute from him and hand it to me.
     “Arghhh, S-a-r-a-h, don’t grab.  I will give it to G-Ma.  Don’t be bossing me around.”  Matt yanked his Fisher Price Rescue Hero out of Sarah’s grasp, bruising her ego and quashing her take-charge-superintendent-of-construction attitude

Sarah became a nagging, squawking magpie

      “Mommy, Matt pushed me.”  Sarah resents the intrusion of her brothers into her ‘girls rule’ sessions.  This was one of those times.  She was no longer was my sweet little bird, but had morphed into a squawking, nagging magpie, fluttering noisily about, ready to peck her big brother’s eyes out if he refused.   A woman scorned?
     Around the tiny kitchen, encumbered by Angus in the stroller, the two wrestled for the toy with the broken parachute.
     “Enough,” their mommy exploded with restrained, yet firm emphasis.    She removed the damaged item from Sarah’s toy-napping fingers and handed it to me.  “Grabbing and pushing are not options in this apartment, or anywhere.  You two know that.   Sarah, apologize to Matt for grabbing his toy.  Matt you tell Sarah you are sorry as well.”
      Quick to soothe ruffled feathers, Sarah grabbed my hand for support.  “We fix-it gals will patch your parachute, Matt.  G-Ma will let me help her.”  Then, just as quick to shove a sharp burr under Matt’s saddle, she added:   “I’m learning how to be a good fix-it gal.  Only girls can be fix-it gals.  So there…”
     “Hey, hey, hey,” interjected Mommy S, “boys can fix things, too.   G-Pa is a handyman when it comes to plumbing.   We can thank him for fixing lots of things….putting in our air conditioner, fixing the futon,  waxing our floors, fixing your bike tires.  Lots of things.  So there are handymen and fix-it gals.”
      “But, mommy, you made the bookcases in our apartment, and you know how to use the ‘lectric drill.  You are the fix-it person in our apartment! You are the fixer.  Not Daddy. Girls fix things, not boys.” 
      “Daddy would fix anything I ask him to.  Just like G-Pa fixes stuff G-Ma can’t and uses his special Gorilla Glue, he can fix anything she wants him to fix.  Daddy and I are a team. G-Ma and G-Pa are a team.  I learned how to fix things from G-Ma and enjoy being a fixer.  She loves to fix lots of things from shoes, toys, furniture, and so on just like me. You may live alone sometime in the future and will need to know how to be a fix-it person.  It’s a good thing to know how to use tools.  We are fix-it gals and you will be one too.  Sarah, you are learning how and already are a fixer-apprentice, learner.  I’m pleased you want to join our fixit gal club.  Matt, and Angus when he is older, can be handymen too if they want to learn how.”
     I thought about what my daughter was saying.  Women are not just hanging pictures in today’s world.  Possibly it’s due to the availability of hand tools and the fact that many  women live alone and are learning to be more self sufficient.   Recently, I saw a news report on how tool manufacturers were making hammers and other construction tools to fit women’s hands, not just men’s.   |
     Women are tackling big jobs as well.  I was curious after Sarah’s ‘fix-it questions, etc and I ‘googled’ ( )  fix-it gals.  I was pleased that several web sites offered tools as Mother’s Day gifts.

“The hottest Mother’s Day gift this year is not roses, candy or even breakfast in bed.  It’s a cordless drill straight from the domain of tool-belted dads.”  

     I learned that women increasingly are at least as interested in tackling home improvement projects as they are in getting pampered or receiving yet another household appliance. 
     More women are taking power tools seriously.  Both adult schools and home centers report that female attendance at fix-it and remodeling seminars are soaring.  Last Mother’s Day Amazon’s hardware site sold nearly as many power tools as it did for Father’s Day.

     A study, conducted by Home Depot showed home improvement is a cool hobby for women.  An amazing 37% said they would rather do home improvements than go to the malls (28%) or cook (25%).  Fifty-four percent of women vs. 51% men said they are currently undertaking some home improvement project.

     Manufacturers are well aware of the trend, so they are redesigning some tools for women and marketing them differently. 

Tools with gender based design: Black & Decker

Power comes in smaller packages: Black & Decker

     Ryobi Tools gives careful attention to “ergonomic design.”  Tools are designed with various weights, capacities and handle sizes.  Many including their 6-volt drill work very well for women as well as for men with smaller hand sizes.
    Some companies also design tool handles with rubber grips like those found on kitchen utensils.
     Spike Carlsen, editor of Family Handyman Magazine, reports an increase in questions from women in the expert advice column.  He says  “women install ceramic tile, sheetrock, windows and ceiling fans.  They fix things all through the house.  They even dabble in electrical work and build furniture and additions.”

Women are tackling big jobs too

Ryobi Tools gives careful attention to "ergonomic design"

     Carlsen feels that television shows featuring women showing how to repair and improve things in the house have triggered the trend towards women getting into power tools.  “They see an attractive woman, who is also very capable with tools, and it registers.  As they succeed at doing this and that, they show off to their friends, who then decide to try their own skills.”
      I found it very interesting to read about Virginia’s Correctional Center for Women.  At VCCW vocational training programs are offered to women.   There is an apprenticeship program that offers training in carpentry, electrical, plumbing and general maintenance.  These programs are in addition to training in the business field and computer field.  If the prison world sees a need for fixit training, the rest of the world shouldn’t be far behind.

The Virginia Correction Center for Women is Vigilant in offering a great variety of training programs for women

    Parents and other caretakers can be Vigilant Fixers by introducing their children to the ‘fix-it world’.  When Sarah’s Auntie ‘E’ lived in Japan for two years, she related she was intrigued with the Japanese practice of dumping items that were broken in the trash.  Apparently, the people in the cities in which she lived, had no training in repair nor did city business (she never saw a repair shop). 
     I found after working with Sarah and teaching her ‘how to’ fix things had many benefits.  It not only teaches a child to repair items, but also emphasizes to youngsters that when something breaks, it is not the practice to discard it and purchase a new  replacement.  It teaches a child not only the value of an item, and its ability to be recycled, but also how to be more careful with items.  I realized that children need not become Complacent regarding their toys, or other objects in their houses, schools, neighbors’ goods.  By repairing things, they learn respect for material things along with the respect for people. 

Sparking the "fix-it gene" in girls helps girls to use the tools they've been given

      As well as pride in a job well done, there are great practicalities forthcoming when a child becomes a fix-it gal or fix-it guy.  The children can use the fixit techniques for the rest of their lives.  A girl, like little Sarah, doesn’t have to be Complacent regarding her female nature and wait for a ‘guy to fix things’.   Sparking the “fix-it gene” in girls helps removes the Fear of fixing things and boosts the Courage  to use the tools they’ve been given.   The Terror of Intimidation is fading on the horizon also.  Today, a girl is no longer Intimidated by the “man’s world” tools.   Manufacturers are making “female-friendly” tools and society as whole embraces that a woman loses no sense of her feminine power by picking up a hammer and swinging it at nails.   This Conviction over Intimidation drives away the Terror of Intimidation.
      But the big Vigilant Factor is erasing Complacency.   Terrorism’s greatest weapon is Complacency, that sense of powerless over anything.   When it comes to being a “fix-it gal,” a woman who thinks she “can’t do it,” falls into the arena of giving up her power, of being “victimized” in a man’s world.   It’s like saying we can’t fight tyranny or oppression because it’s “none of our business.”  Worldwide, Terrorism is everybody’s business, especially when Weapons of Mass Destruction can be used to maim and kill the innocent.   At that point, the power of a man or woman to stand up and fight for the protection of the Children’s Children’s Children is mandatory.

Learning to be a "fix-it gal" is like learning to be a Sentinel of Vigilance

       Learning how to be a “fix-it gal” is like learning to be a Sentinel of Vigilance.   Taking the “can-do” attitude shoves Complacency out the door.  But, even more importantly, the Vigilant woman realizes how important it is to pass on to children, both girls and boys, how to fix things and not be at the mercy of the world of broken items.  A fix-it person has more confidence, and adds value to the world by being more independent.   I saw the trend of “fixit gals” as a means to teach future generations to take more Right Actions against the Terrorism of Complacency—just another way to build the strength of character it will take in the future to stand up to all who threaten our security.
      Several days ago, while I was taking Sarah to school, a man handed me his business card.  It read “Quick Draw McGraw – No Job To Big Or Small.”  I showed it to Sarah who is learning how to read.  She deciphered the second part.
      “G-Ma, we don’t need McGraw.  We are fixit gals and can do our own fixing.”
      “I bent down over the brightly colored stroller with its handles lengthened by fix-it G-Pa for easier pushing, and hugged my eager little bird.  “You are so right, my fix-it gal pal. Let’s sing our special fix-it song together the rest of the way to school.”


      “We are the fix-it gals, that is our name.  We fix most anything from toys to the drain. Just tell us what is wrong……… and we will fixit with a song.”   Chorus

                     “Shalala, Shalala has lost her head and tail.”                            Sarah

                    “G-Ma and Sarah will fixit with a nail.”                                    G-Ma

                    “The feather is gone from my purple frau-frau shoe.”               Sarah  
                    “G-Ma and Sarah will fixit with some glue.”                            G-Ma

      “We are the fix-it gals, that is our name.  We fix most anything from toys to the drain.  Just tell us what is wrong………and we will fix-it with a song.”   Chorus
                   “Fix-it, fix-it, fix-it gals.  Hooray, fix-it gals.”                            Sarah
Sarah’s unwavering, clear Voice caused many a head to turn and ears to listen.  Perhaps, I thought, our vigilant message will act as a small dab of glue cementing the idea that no one ever has to be a victim of anything if one is a fix-it gal or fix-it guy.
       Even broken hearts, I thought, could be fixed, if one knew how to fix things.
       Broken dreams could be repaired.

A "fix-it kid" knows how to recover after a disaster

       Broken expectations.
       Yes, a fix-it gal or fix-it guy would know how to put himself or herself back together after any emotional or physical disaster.
        This would mean the Beast of Terror who likes to prey on the wounded would not have anyone to attack, for fix-it people would be his worst enemy.  No matter how much he tried to break them apart with Fear, Intimidation or Complacency, the fix-it boy or girl could glue themselves back together with Courage, Conviction and Right Action for the Children’s Children’s Children.
        Yes, I thought, if the world was full of fix-it gals and guys, the Beast of Terror would be nailed to the wall or forever stuck there with Gorilla Glue.
         But, for the moment, my priority was a broken dinosaur.    The Beast would have to wait.

 Go To Sophia Wisdom 25 -  "Water-Proofing the Children's Children's Children"

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