It’s a funny thing, getting older. Actually I’m not getting older. I’m getting lost. Yet I’d bet you in a group of young people I’d be the only one able to use a compass.

Literacy, numeracy, and trying-not-to-die-stupidly skills are down. Again. If you were born in the previous century you’re probably rolling your eyes, or ripping your hair out, or more likely not enjoying being scared shitless at the prospect of your kids not making it. Well maybe not your kids. Because you’ve taught them the basics. But their friends, sheesh.

I remember when my kids were little and I’d take them to the cottage by myself. The cottage was on an island with no neighbours. The eldest was barely four, the youngest still an infant. Between them was a charmingly head-forever-in-the-clouds two-year-old.

What would happen to them if I fell down and knocked myself out? How would they get help? This fear gripped me tight.

I showed my eldest how to dial 911 on my cell phone and what to say. Told her to listen to whoever picked up and do as they say. But ONLY when you call 911. Don’t listen to anyone else. Unless I’m unconscious and they’re coming to help. It’s complicated but you’ll need to figure it out.

I also taught her how to signal for help in Morse code. Three small dots, three long dashes, three small dots. Probably useless since my kid is no doubt the only person on the lake who’d know what that meant. But so what. Go to the sun deck, and whistle or bang on a pot in bursts of threes. Someone will at some point show up just to tell you to stop making that racket.

As it turns out we never needed that knowledge. But it was useful nonetheless. Now she can amaze her friends with her savoir-faire. Including in the kitchen. She knows what to do to avoid starvation other than tapping for Uber eats.

Speaking of which, don’t just sit there waiting for the hot steamy bowl of Thai noodles to arrive. Take the time to talk to your own personal offspring and make sure they know how to calculate pill dosage or what to do when they get a flat tire. Because teaching, too, is a basic skills.