Or before you get sick of them and throw them outside to fend for themselves because you hit your limit and you just want to live your own life now thankyouverymuch. But you won’t do that because the neighbors tend to stare if you throw cereal bars out at the children rapidly becoming feral in your yard, and because it’s not legal but hey, details. You do you, boo.
Parents of a certain age start to fantasize about empty nesting. I started dreaming of that day when Andy was two months old, so it’s been a long time a’comin’. Of course, now he’s a pretty cool human with a whacked out sense of humor (no idea where he learned that), but back in the day (aka PLEASE SLEEP FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY) I was miserable from lack of sleep and a child who thrived on being awake and exploring. Then we rolled the dice and had another who is still learning how to be a cool human (middle school, yo, it’s gonna kill me) and fast forward to today….in four years we will have launched two fully formed creatures into the world. It’s hard to type that, as I’ve not only crossed my fingers but am also chanting an ancient mantra to the Mothering Goddess on the planet NOT IN MY HOUSE and it’s a bit of a tongue-twister.
So as I’ve seen this day come closer and closer I find that I’m starting to read more about parenting teens and young adults and the lives we have with and without them. Grown and Flown is a favorite, and as I continue to get my poop in a group I hope to submit writing there. But, like most mainstream parenting publications, our quirky and out-of-the-box lives aren’t easily found there, if ever. I’ve seen lists all over the internet about what your kid should know by <insert age or stage here>, but they rarely take into account the (ahem) unusual situations we now manage with ease. Ok, right, not with ease, but with wine and online friends and a healthy gallows humor.
Allow me to present Laughing at Chaos’s LIST OF THINGS YOUR TWICE-EXCEPTIONAL TEEN SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW BEFORE LEAVING HOME. Enjoy with a grain or two of salt; they’re really good around the rim of a glass with lime and tequila.
- The difference between mildly ill, truly ill, and you’re a freaking hypochondriac with access to the internet. We are still working on this one. Daily. Hourly. Please, someone save me. I can’t even disable the internet because both boys know considerably more than I do about the whole damned thing and have something-somethinged the giggidiflibbit so it speeds along at moofflin per duttim, and if I look at it sideways the slibbertin will blurp onto the zeegoozle, and that’ll be the end of society as we know it. But yeah. How to determine the severity of illness, because it’s one thing to care for a sick infant around the clock, it’s another to be woken by a young man who thinks it’s either appendicitis or butthole mange.
- The importance of automated finances. Direct deposit, automatic bill paying, round-up to savings/investments, the works. I’m a grown-ass adult whose executive function has taken a hit from parenting and the stress of daily life, and I rely on this so hard. 2e kids tend to have more EF issues, so automate the hell outta life. We’re living in the future, take advantage of it.
- How to say no. How to accept no. That no is a complete sentence, and not the first shot in a volley of negotiations. NO is full-stop, end of discussion, knock it off. And if you think that’s a little heavy-handed, let’s talk #metoo and consent and boundaries. No means no. Learning it starts young, it starts with accepting that you don’t always get your way, and it just gets more important from there. With bright kids who always need to know why and how and who and all that, they gotta learn no, too.
- How to advocate for themselves without being a dick. Words, body language, courtesy…they all go a long way. Others may have given them a hard time in the past about their requests and needs, but the person in front of them now didn’t. Catch more flies with honey, blah blah blah. It just makes it easier on themselves in the long run, and on others who will need to advocate for themselves in the future.
- Why a clean bathroom is a gift to your future self. Don’t think so? Imagine having food poisoning in a bathroom that hasn’t been scrubbed in months. All exits, no waiting. ‘Nuff said.
- One meal. Know how to cook just one healthy and balanced meal. Just one. Bonus points if it’s something that can be doubled and frozen for other dinners.
- That the second their odometer clicks over to AGE 18 their parents officially can’t do a damned thing for them without permission given in triplicate, notarized with the tears of baby sloths, and filed away with the Ark of the Covenant. So, dear sons, this is why we make you write the emails to the scoutmaster, why we make you talk to your teachers about your sinking grades, and why we make you figure out the problem and how to solve it. We’re here as your teachers and backup, and learning this crap now is waaaayyy easier than learning it when we can’t take over if necessary.
Yeah, that’s a good start there; these are all in addition to the standard know how to do laundry, why living on a diet of Mountain Dew and Pringles is a bad idea, and remember to call your mother if you wish
to live to have anything resembling pocket money. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as we get closer to launch.
So, my parenting comrades-in-arms, what am I missing? I’m sure you have thoughts to share and I’d love to hear them.