After some contemplation while cleaning, always a good time for deep thinking, I wanted to post about assumed skills. I describe them as the skills you’ve had for a long time, likely since childhood, that are useful and seem common.
As an adult I’m always surprised when talking to people and discover they don’t have one or both of 2 specific skills. These are riding a bike and swimming at some level. It’s almost certainly indicative of the time and place I grew up, regional New South Wales in the 80s and early 90s. My siblings and kids at school could swim and ride bikes too, naturally I assumed everybody of my generation could. I knew my grandparents couldn’t swim but my parents had both those skills too.
Growing up swimming in the Hume Weir and various rivers meant being able to keep afloat and get out of a current was useful and possibly life-saving. Bikes were fun and much faster than walking, going to the shop to get milk on the bike was one of the first independent tasks outside the home that my parents gave me.
To take a step back in time, I acquired these skills in the following ways.
I can’t recall which Christmas I received my first bike, but I was thrilled. The pink bike had a basket and streamers from the handles. It seemed giant but the training wheels made me feel secure and when riding I felt very tall. The frame had the word ‘Trendy’ printed on it and so in typical child logic the bike was named Trendy. After a time Dad removed the training wheels and taught me how to ride.
Many weekend afternoons were spent learning, he held the bike upright and ran along behind me as I became less wobbly in a straight line, around corners and eventually doing a u-turn at the end of the driveway. There were falls and scrapes, he was patient and over the years all 3 of us learned how to ride. The saying about never forgetting is true. There have been many years between riding bikes as I’ve aged, I’ve never forgotten how to do it and have always enjoyed casual cycling.
Swimming lessons formed a part of the Young children’s yearly visit to Trundle, staying with our grandparents during summer. On lesson mornings we were up early for a light breakfast then off to the pool; amid moaning about being tired and the water cold. Years later I could swim confidently, stay afloat and tread water for extended periods. Swimming was also a part of my primary and high school sports lessons. I think it’s important to include swimming lessons as part of schooling, not everybody is able to learn before school ages or outside of school.
I can’t help but wonder what assumed skills others have of those around them. In some places driving or being able to light a fire may be an assumed skill. Due to living in both regional areas and cities I’ve met just as many people who can’t or won’t drive as those who can and do. I’d be interested to hear if others have assumed skills and what they might be.