Advice. I’ve Got It. Who Needs It?

A friend recently asked me what advice I gave my daughter right before she graduated high school. I laughed and said she wasn’t exactly into taking advice during that time period. She  had just turned 18 and was  battling the dreaded “know it all” disease. Basically, there’s no one dumber than the parent of an 18-year-old in the four months before they leave for college. My parenting style for last summer was the terminal eye roll.

I experienced this same thing with my son before he departed for his freshman year.  I call this period the “summer of hubris.” It’s the sweet spot when your kids are still being coddled by your tender loving care and yet think that because they’re on the brink of leaving the nest they’re geniuses about how the world works. (Never mind that they still lose their phone at least once a day. Sigh.)

This advice thing though did get me thinking about imparting some real-world wisdom. The kind that you won’t find in any book because it’s not that magical or even uplifting. It’s just hum drum common sense that every grown up should embrace. So, here’s five things that make my short list of “Hey, you’re legally an adult now so don’t be an idiot.”

  1. While waiting in line for 15 minutes to order food do be prepared to place your order when you get to the front and not act like you’ve never been to Panera (or a drive thru) before. Also, commit this to memory – a cup a soup is about half the size of a bowl.

2. Never ask a woman when her baby is due. I don’t care if it looks like she has a trio of beach balls stuffed under her shirt. Under no circumstances should you assume any woman is pregnant unless she readily volunteers the information. (Don’t ask me how I know, but I know, like really know.)

3. Be spatially aware. This seems to be a growing affliction where people assume that they are the single carbon life form inhabiting the planet and therefore have no compunction about physical space. Are the rest of us ghosts, phantom apparitions that you can walk through with no consequences? Short answer – no. Also, beware points of egress. A door or any entry way is not a place to park your personhood as you stare at your phone.

4. If you’re returning what amounts to wheelbarrow full of items you ordered on-line to a brick and mortar store on the weekend before December 25 for the love of Saint Nick have your receipt so the sales associate doesn’t have to physically enter, by hand, every piece of merchandise into the computer system thus ensuring your return takes about an hour (which in the Christmas time continuum feels like an entire day to the person behind you in line).

5. You’re not that special as in you’re not that special that anyone, not even your mother, wants to hear you’re one sided, long-winded cell phone convo in a public space. This is why texting was invented to keep people from having to hear you talk. Also, if any of my children ever has a conversation with their phone on speaker at an airport, grocery story or doctor’s office they should officially consider themselves disowned.

Of course, this list could go on and on, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned by being a parent for 22 years is that advice is best given in bite size chunks. Too much at one time tends to get ignored or forgotten and these five pearls of knowledge need to be committed to memory.