I'm sure you've heard the saying "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." At this little place here, we now have a variation of this saying. If you give a girl a fire stick. . .
First, I should probably explain what a 'fire stick', in this little place here terms, is. A fire stick is simply one of those little butane fireplace or grill lighters with a trigger on it. Not sure which of my offspring coined the phrase fire stick in their younger years, but it stuck.
Why give a girl a fire stick? Well, our cook top is propane, and, in 2003 when we got it brand new for our house we built, it had electric ignition: you turn the burner knob to 'lite', the cook top sends an electric pulse through a ceramic piece with a wire in it (kind of like a spark plug in a car) and at the same time the gas valve is opened, so the spark ignites the gas to light the burner. After about four years of daily use, the electric ignition went bad. At which time I started using kitchen matches to light my stove the old-fashioned way: strike match, stick match down in burner, light gas, quickly remove fingers from burner!
DH considered replacing the electric ignition, but, well, the economy was getting bad, and things were rocky with the auto industry in which he was employed. Money was tight and the possibility of him losing his job due to downsizing was great, so we decided that matches were just fine, we didn't need to spend money on replacing the electronics. He did consult my uncle, who managed several branches of a propane company for over twenty-five years (and used to do many service calls for customers), on the cost and difficulty of replacing the ignition system ourselves, and my uncle said: "You've heard of matches, right? If it were my stove, I'd just stick with lighting it by a match."
And so we did. Which wasn't a problem, until DD2 got old enough that we started to expect her to help with cooking (my kids start cooking simple things on their own about age eleven or twelve on the stove; baking comes much earlier). She was just plain scared of lighting the stove with a match. As long as someone else was around and willing to light the stove for her, she'd cook. But she just could not light the thing herself.
Try as I may, I couldn't teach her to be calm and light the stove. I could light the match and she'd turn the knob for the burner, releasing the gas. She'd even light the match herself. But when it came to lighting the match and holding her hand down on the edge of the burner to get the flame close to the gas valve, forget it.
When she turned fourteen, and only one of two children left living a home, I had the brilliant idea to buy her a fire stick. We'd had one in the past for lighting our old grill that the ignitor was shot on, but it had long ago died, and we'd replaced the worn out (and rusted out) grill with a newer used one we got for free (former tenants of DH's sister and brother-in-law left it behind when they moved). So I bought a brand new, shiny red fire stick, wrapped it up, and gave it to DD2 with her other birthday presents. Rather an usual gift for a kid: something that makes fire.
She was so excited! Until she went to use it. This particular brand of fire stick is very safety conscious. Wouldn't want children getting ahold of it and setting their house on fire, now would we? The 'safety' on the fire stick was so hard to use that DD2 couldn't hold the safety button down far enough with her thumb to pull the trigger with her finger and have a free hand to turn the knob to open the gas valve on the stove with. In fact, I could barely do it either, and I'm stronger than your average woman (I don't need no man to open my pickle jars, lol).
Well, darn. So much for my great idea. That fire stick went to DH, who used it for lighting brush piles and other stuff outdoors. For many months, DD2 only cooked if someone else lit the burner for her.
Late this summer, I got another brilliant idea: I would find a less safe fire stick, and buy it for DD2! By less safe, I mean one with a safety that even a toddler could push. Which wasn't so easy to do, given the fact that my shopping options in a 20 mile radius (how far I normally am willing to drive for an item) pretty much carried the uber-safe brand of fire stick.
I finally found one, though. I brought it home and gave it to DD2, who instantly lit it with ease. With excitement, she proceeded straight to the cook top, turned the knob, and I swear the neighbors could hear her joyful proclamation: "I LIT THE STOVE!!! I LIT THE STOVE!!"
She no longer fears the cook top. She makes her own hot water for tea frequently. She cooks when asked to do so. And just the other day, she told me that she wants to cook even more often. Like dinner once or twice a week!
She is empowered!
If you light the stove for a girl, she cooks once. If you give a girl a fire stick, she cooks for a lifetime.