The 4 Things With Which You Can Solve Most Problems

Last month I posted about the four things we taught our boys that a man does and why I believe because of trying to practice these four things we should shame those who use their power and position to sexually harass others. We are a family that likes lists, so I thought I would share another of our lists. The 4 things with which you can solve most problems.

Here are the four things:

Upper Left: a knife, Lower Left: a bandage, Upper Right: a quarter, Lower Right: a pen

Just in case you can’t see the photo above here are the four things:

  • a pocket knife
  • a bandage
  • a quarter
  • a pen

My Dad told this list to me when I was young and I then took it and made it a big deal with my boys. The idea was, and is, that any problems that can’t be solved with the pen, bandage, or pocketknife will probably need a phone call as a part of their solution. That is what the quarter is for, though the modern version of this is a cell phone, since I have no idea where you would find a pay phone anymore, and if you did find one I assume that a quarter would no longer pay for a call. So I carry these four things with me everywhere that it is legal (i.e. I’m not carrying the pocket knife on a plane).

One of the things that Pam (my amazingly smart wife) encourages her communicative science disorder students and parents with whom she does speech and language therapy to do is to use open-ended toys for play and therapy.  Open-ended toys are toys that don’t have a specific play agenda connected to them. For example, regular Legos can be made into anything, whereas Star Wars Legos are supposed to be built into specific items. Pam encourages open-ended toys because non-open-ended toys lend themselves to a limited number of types of play, while open-ended toys can be used in a world of manners. Like I said, Pam is very smart.

The four things are open-ended problem solving devices. Even the bandage. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have used my wallet bandage as a very temporary fastener. In order to solve a few problems I have also disassembled my pen and used its parts for various unintended tasks. The knife has come in handy for shaping the pen to solve a few problems.

What I specifically like about the four things is two fold:

  • First, it reminds me, and I believe the boys also, to be prepared to deal with problems before they happen. I feel like having the mindset of always having the four things with me leads to me thinking through what problems I might face during my day and what other tools I might need to face such problems. This mindset has shaped what I keep with me most of the time in my possible.
  • Second, I believe it reminds me to think creatively in dealing with problems. “I know I have these four things, how can I use them to solve what I am facing at the moment?”

Sadly none of these four things will solve the really important problems. I believe Jesus does that. Maybe you can use the quarter to call me and we can talk about Him. 🙂

Anyhow, if you see me anytime out and about during the day chances are that I have these four things on me in one form or another. What do you carry with you?

SIDE NOTE – Yep, the quarter is from 1943 and thus 90% silver. Not really worth much because of its condition but I still think it is cool.