There were a couple of classes I was not, in any way ever, going to take in high school: typing and home economics. There was art too, but that’s a whole other story. I considered typing and home economics gender stereotypic, wasn’t going to need those skills professionally, and I didn’t have any room in my schedule anyway for those electives.
All of this was going through my head Saturday as I washed, cleaned, laundered, cooked, baked, and ironed. The only domestic thing I did not do was sew! Talk about feeling like Hilda Homemaker! As I stood there ironing all my linen curtains, I knew there must be a correct way to iron that I would have probably learned in home ec, had I taken it.
Instead, all of my domestic and typing skills were learned through experience. Typing was a no brainer for me. I played the piano and guitar, used all my fingers doing so and adapted my own technique for using all of my finger typing. And I was f-a-s-t. Since I used a manual typewriter all through my undergrad and graduate years, I definitely would have benefitted learning how to get the paper in the right place or to line up again if I had to fix something later. Turabian was my guide for everything else related to formatting, styles, citations and anything else under the sun required for term and research papers.
I began cooking in 5th grade so what would I possibly need to know that I wasn’t already doing?!? Chemistry and math. That’s all cooking was. The math came in real handy when I was raising my sons. Growing boys do not eat according to serving sizes. The two of them could put away a five-pound meatloaf! Often their friends were joining us for dinner (we were one of the only families who ate dinner together) and they had healthy appetites too! I know our dinner table was where many of their friends learned how to set a table, the napkin went in your lap, and whoever cooks, does not clean up.
I actually learned the origin of the word economic in seminary. Two years of Greek was required and the word for steward is in both the Old (yep, had a year of Hebrew too) and New Testaments. The Greek word is oikonomikós and means “relating to household management.” Oikonóm means “steward” and that was the person responsible for running the household. It was a position of respect and responsibility.
If you think about it, a lot goes in to running a household: budgets, managing staff, orchestrating events and entertainment, overseeing the production and procurement of foods and supplies, land and livestock management, interior design and decor…you get it.
I’m pretty sure knowing the respectability of the origins of economics would not have made any difference in my interest in home economics. But it is interesting how, like typing, I haven’t escaped the necessity of home economic tasks.
Next week, as I continue my spring cleaning, I think I’ll cogitate on a modern-day Cinderella story.