Being a parent is an enormous responsibility. From the moment that tiny little treasure is born, he or she is dependent on you for their entire existence, and it is your job to care for them and prepare for them to one day leave the nest. Among the vital skills that Dad and I taught you was how to walk, talk, use a toilet, drink from a glass, eat with a fork and use a knife.
I wrote on this subject two years ago (Just Make Your Bed) when I spoke of several skills I omitted teaching each of you, such as how to sew on a button, how to hang a picture, and how to balance a check book. (Do any of you actually do that final item?)
When learning how to drive, did I ever impress on each of you the importance of never leaving anything on the roof of your car? I was reminded of this recently after I received a call from a neighbor who informed me that someone had found my library book on the street about ¾ mile from our house.
Like the pizza I had also left on the roof of my car many years ago, I had repeated history—this time with a book. It is amazing that the book almost made the seven mile trip home before ultimately landing on the ground. That is a true miracle.
Sadly, this little error may cost me the price of the book, because when I finally retrieved the book from the neighbor who had found it, it was slightly damp, and the pages were quite wrinkled. I tried placing the book under a heavy object as well as resorting to my hardly-used iron, but alas, the book does not look so Ay-Yay-Yay. I swear I will never do that again! It’s just not a good idea.
Cleaning and organizing is like booking a trip. It’s not fun to do, but the anticipation of the end product makes the chore tolerable for me. Perhaps it’s the mathematician in me that makes me enjoy organizing my house. Dad has complained often how annoying my piles are to him, but to me, this is far superior to having papers and whatnot scattered helter skelter around the house.
My closets and dresser drawers are grouped by color, and my pantry, although in need of better weight distribution, is organized according to type of food—breakfast foods together, pasta in another area, and canned goods on the ends. It takes time once but saves lots of time needlessly searching for things later. I didn’t teach you that.
In the days prior to liquid hand soap, I admit to sometimes cleaning the bar of soap because I reasoned that no one would want to wash their hands with dirty soap. Snicker if you will, but I know at least one member of my family admitted to doing this at one time (right, Gail?).
I am happiest on the night when I jump into a bed with freshly washed sheets, although I admit I just can’t do it every single week like I should. I always make my bed unless one of us is sick because I believe an unmade bed makes the neatest and cleanest room look messy. Dad, Aunt Val and allegedly some scientists disagree that this should be done each day, but when I am away, Dad knows to at least make the bed on the day I return because it’s important to me. I don’t know what your bedrooms look like now, but I have visual proof on the Mother’s Day video you made me several years ago that I taught you all this lesson. The three of you were making Kelly’s bed in 1992.
At a young age, you were all emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up your toys. I tricked you into doing the latter by making a game of it—picking them up by color or before the timer ran out.
I taught you how to do the laundry, separating whites from colors, and you all knew your way around the kitchen. Kelly even took notes on how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner so that she could prepare it all, which she did, cooking for both her family and Mark’s one year. You are all quite adventurous in your cooking skills. If you are not on Casey’s recipe mailing list, I highly encourage you to do so.
But I missed teaching a few lessons—some potential life and death lessons—such as the “never put a fork in the toaster lessson.” I discovered I omitted this lesson on one of Casey’s visits home. Fortunately, I caught her in the nick of time. She can thank me for her life.
Casey never learned to parallel park because North Carolina did not require it as part of the driver test, but as Aunt Val once said, you can survive life without this skill. You just may need to walk farther.
In organizing my computer, I found a list, “Teach Stuff”, and I am positive I never taught all of you everything on it. The skills I omitted from my life skills seminars can all be learned on You Tube or via a telephone call, so there is no need to worry. Here is the list (definitely not complete because there was a #6 followed by nothing):
How to replace a button or fix a hem
How to hang a picture
How to paint a room
How to parallel park
How to balance a check book
Case in point of what to do when faced with a problem whose solution was never taught: Yesterday I received a frantic call from Jamie. She got in her car and a “check tire” light was lit. Geoff did not answer her initial call (I advised her to now “ask you husband first”) so she called us because she was afraid of blowing out a tire while driving home on a busy highway. The lesson she was never taught was that cold weather can cause your tires to deflate.
You know what? I did the best I could. Now you are all grown up and on your own. I am comforted knowing that if you can’t figure it out on your own or with the assistance of the Internet, spouses or boyfriend, then the phone Mom or Dad option is always available.