I have a son who has recently graduated high school and while I’m proud of his academic knowledge (aka book learning) I feel he, along with his peers, are woefully undereducated in the real life arena. This has prompted me to compile a list of skills I need to make sure my son knows before he heads off to college. Not wanting to hoard my treasure trove of wisdom I’ve decided to gift you with my To Do’s.
How to change a toilet paper roll – Forget about the score you made on the SAT’s. If you want to really impress me change the toilet paper roll. It requires a minimum of fine motor skills and is really quite self-explanatory. The brown cardboard toilet paper shell is not an eye-catching, long-term, decorative accessory for the bathroom. It’s the universal sign that it’s time for a new roll of TP. I think every student before being handed their diploma must first demonstrate that they know how to complete this, apparently, arduous task.
How to have a conversation – Put down your phone, I know it’s going to be a struggle and you might experience the shakes and some symptoms of withdrawal but power through and do it. After your phone is no longer your main focus, look another human being in the eyes (c’mon don’t give up, you can do it) maintain eye contact while asking your fellow carbon life form a question (because usually a query is an excellent ice breaker) and proceed to have a give and take of at least six complete sentences.
How to pick the quickest line at the grocery store – You will use this skill almost every day for the rest of your life. First, any line with a male cashier is a big no. Sorry, guys but you’re slower than your female counterparts at the whole scan and go. Second, avoid any cashier that seems chatty. Making conversation slows down the scanning and bagging considerably. Third, don’t judge a line by the number of groceries in the cart. Judge the line by the grocery. A bunch of produce that needs to be weighed is a time suck. This statement might lead you to believe that getting behind the canned good shopper is a good thing. No, canned good shoppers are usually buying bulk and will be locked and loaded with coupons. Coupons are the black hole of checkout lines. Not only do they have to be scanned but also you can count on at least one being denied which will lead to at least a five-minute confab with the store manager.
Grooming in public – No tweezing and for the love of hygiene no nail clipping outside the four walls of your bathroom. Also, NEVER go free range with a foot nail file. Sadly, I’ve seen many cases of people (mostly women in their 30’s) committing this egregious act at public pools and even last summer at a July 4th Fireworks celebration. I kid you not, a woman on the blanket next to mine, got a Pedi egg thing out of her purse and began going to town on her heel calluses. I almost barfed as her foot funk was being jettisoned into the atmosphere.
How to properly answer the phone – It’s a little hard to believe but 18-year-olds still don’t know how to answer a phone, mainly because they don’t use their phone for audible conversations. So to review, you answer a phone with a “hello.” For style points you might want to add a friendly lilt on the O. It is most definitely not huh, what, yeah, or uh huh.
How to order off a Panera or Corner Bakery menu – This advice applies to any restaurant where you stand in line to place your order. Now, usually these lines are long enough to give you time to peruse the menu and make a decision. Do not get to the front of line and then suddenly get stumped by what you want. There is no place in the adult world for menu performance anxiety. Also, asking if there’s fair trade cream in the baked potato soup is a sign that you’re at the wrong restaurant. Remember, it’s all about keeping the line moving.
I could go on but life skills are best taught in bite size chunks. You don’t want to overwhelm or even scare your emerging adult with information overload. For now, I’ll be grateful, if mastery is achieved on replacing the toilet paper roll.
**For more Snarky check out my book Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.
Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.
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