Power Tools

A couple weeks ago, I saw this lying on the counter.

I pick it up, read a little, and exclaim, “Cool!”

Of course my (almost 14-year-old) daughter has no emotional response to it whatsoever. “Ya. I guess.”

I ask her, “Don’t you want to go?”

“Not really,” again… completely devoid of emotion.

“Well, I’ll sign the permission slip and ask that you turn it in. If you decide you don’t want to go, then let’s talk about it,” I say. (Basically, why on EARTH would you not want to do this?!? Then I realize that this particular child really doesn’t get excited about much. She’s kind of… in a phase– a fun one, I might add. Not.)

I told her about a week or so ago that I had a personal day I had to use at work and would like to go on the field trip. By this time, she’d talked about it with a couple friends who were going and she was on board with the whole thing! I put in a request for the personal day and it was granted! Yayyyyy!

With the exception of me not hustling around to get ready for work, it was a normal (completely beautiful) spring day in North Central Washington. I made breakfast and lunch for the kids and walked them down to the bus stop. I did take the whole day off work and it turns out the kids aren’t leaving the school until 10:45 this morning. Awesome! I’ve got a little time to do some stuff before I get myself ready.

I spent some lovely time designing birthday invitations for both of my May birthday babies, sent them to Office Depot, cut them, and got them ready for the kids to give to their friends tomorrow! Off to see what this whole Pizza, Pop, & Power Tools thing is all about.

When I arrived on site at the local community college where the event would take place, I found the main organizer of the event to see if I could locate where the kids would be at that time. It was a little odd to run into my former boss (now our Deputy Superintendent of Schools in the district I’ve worked in for 20 years) in the middle of a workday who was standing there and I fumbled over my words a little– being sure to put in that I was on a personal day. LOL bluuhhhh bluuhbadaaa uuuuhhhhhbluuhhh

Very soon, my daughter’s bus arrived and it was time for lunch almost right away. I helped serve pizza to about 100 girls from two local middle schools. Our local community college has a fabulous pond/fountain where I found my daughter and her friends enjoying the sunshine, the breeze, and their lunch!

It was quickly apparent that I was the only parent volunteer at this event. OOOOhhhhhhhh. There were lots of volunteers, but none of the other girls’ moms (nor dads) were there. I felt very out of place and didn’t know if my daughter might want me to leave. I didn’t want her to feel weird about it. She was a little distant for the first little bit– probably processing the whole thing. Neither of us said anything about the elephant in the room (nor did her friends), but I know my girl and I know she was uncomfortable. I decided to keep a little distance and when she went off with her friends to get another slice of pizza, I was cool with it. I didn’t say anything.

I sat quietly for a few moments and it hit me that this would likely be my last field trip with my girl. I’ve tried to take time off over the years to be able to accompany her on these types of outings. They’re so few and far-between and really the years go by so quickly. It’s tough for me to have to be a working mom when I want to be available for my family, so I try to take advantage of my schedule as much as possible to be available for my family– particularly to volunteer for the kids’ school events.

I made small talk with someone helping with the event. A longtime smelting plant recently closed in our town putting over 500 people out of work. This gal had been with that company for 25 years- her husband had been there 35 years. So many stories like this all around town! 

When my girlie came back from getting that second helping of pizza, she was a little more warm to the idea of my presence. She even posed for a couple photos with me. YAY!

The first station for us was welding. It was pretty fun to see a woman leading this session. Really the whole purpose of this day was to demonstrate to the girls that they can do anything! There are no ‘male’ professions. If you want to do it, then do it! So this gal was so kind and patient with the girls talking about all of the safety precautions and showing them how to use the traditional welding equipment. Check out these freaking awesome pigs that she made! Freaking WELDED! Each of the girls in my group got a chance to do a little welding!

 

Their faces just lit up! Then, we went next door and did some plasma welding. That was equally fun and interesting.  There was a woman leading the safety talk and overseeing

the whole thing and a young man (a student in the welding program at the college) was so patient and encouraging with each of the girls. I just loved listening to how he talked with the kids. It made me a little excited for what my kids will experience when they’re part of a college campus.

After welding, we went to chat with the firefighters. We’ve had firefighter friends for many many years. In fact, my first big crush in life was a firefighter/emt. I’ve always looked up to them for what they do. I’ll write a post about how we have grown to value the firefighters in our community.

Last week, we were at a community meeting about becoming a Firewise Community. At this meeting, our local fire chief talked about a program they have called a Resident Volunteer. My ears perked up for our (almost) 17-year-old son when the fire chief said… “(blah blah blah) free college.” MMMwhaaaaa?!?

Yes. Our local fire department has what’re called resident volunteers. They’re people who are trained volunteer firefighters who work regular shifts at the local fire station. They live at the fire house (for free) and the fire department pays for all of the classes (that they pass). What a fantastic way to do important and rewarding work AND get a college education AND do it DEBT FREE!

Anyway, the firefighters shared all of their gear and equipment. It was cool to see the girls exclaiming about the weight of the tools they carry and even more so the weight of the clothing and oxygen tanks. The firefighters talked about the equipment on their truck and what each person’s responsibilities are once they arrive on scene. We live in an area where wildfire is a way of life, so all of the girls were attentive, respectful, and curious about a lot of things. The discussion about water sources was really interesting. Did you know that a large fire truck actually carries about 500 gallons of water on board? I honestly had no idea. At full pressure, that could last up to 2 minutes. I thought all of the water used in fighting (residential) fires came from hydrants. Also interesting was that all of the hydrant water is city water. That’s not strange to most, but we’re a river community. The Columbia River runs through our town with a couple small rivers flowing into it right here in town. I always thought we surely used water from the river in hydrants. I kind of felt like an idiot for thinking that, but it was really interesting to learn!
I think the highlight there was for the girls to be able to walk through the fire truck from one side to the other. Too cool!

As if all we’d done to this point wasn’t cool enough, we went to learn about what linemen do! Wow. I mean… pretty freakin’ cool! We have a local lineman rodeo every year and it’s a lot of fun to see the different kinds of things they do, but today was about the important job they do. They literally keep the power on for us. I’ve always wondered about some of the safety precautions they take (and even been like… wow… that seems incredibly dangerous)! Too cool that the linemen gave the girls (who wanted to) a chance to suit up and learn how to scale to the top of a power pole. Wow! Even though it scared the crap out of me to see how high up they went, I was a little bummed my non-joiner kiddo didn’t want to give it a try. Cool, though.

Here was something super cool. A year ago, my oldest boy (almost 22 now) finished the Auto Mechanics Program at the college. I’ve heard him tell a bazillion stories about his teachers and all of the experiences and antics they had in the shop. It was AWESOME to meet his teachers. When I introduced myself (and my daughter), I loved watching the teachers’ eyes light up when I told them who we were. So awesome. I sent a couple photos to our boy, which he thought was just freakin’ cool!

 

We then went to a session on operating heavy equipment and then used more tools in the carpentry session.

The last session was going to be in the machine shop! I was really looking forward to that one. My husband, a programming supervisor for a local aerospace shop, has been helping to mentor and get this program off the ground for the last couple of years. My girl and I were disappointed when we ran out of time for that last session.

I’m SO glad I took the time to not only spend with my girl, but to also see how girls are being encouraged to think beyond traditional when weighing their options for career choices. What a time to be alive! What a time to be a woman! AND they even let me have this DARLING PINK hard hat (it’s actually not hard at all) AND PINK safety goggles. LOVE!

Go get ’em, girls!

 

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