Dorothy Harris

Commencing life training

There’s no denying our child is rapidly approaching adulthood. A tall woman myself, she now bypasses me by an inch. She becomes more independent each week and college looms in the near future. It’s time to roll out life training.

The kid can fry an egg and make spaghetti, but one can’t eat just two items for the next eight years, can they? Sandwiches and yogurt will only take one so far. Enhancing her cooking skills has begun slowly, one reluctant meal at a time. Often we find ourselves faced with a very apathetic chef who reminds us of abundant dining options located around each of the universities we visited.

I have to admit, between the food service on campus and the restaurants clustered a short walk, bike or bus away, why would a student learn to cook? If dorm life is chosen, this too limits meal preparation, making cooking instruction seem unnecessary. Yet, we press on with this necessary life skill.

Money management is another important lesson we are trying to impart. With banks located right on campus and endless options for easy credit and loans, we hope to clearly illustrate dangers lurking within a little square of plastic. Our gal has been pretty money savvy thus far, but interestingly, this generation sees no need to manage a bank account. We’ve worked on this, insisting she begin getting used to financial transactions and monitoring her accounts.

Her first solo shopping trip with a debit card went exceptionally well. Making use of a sale and a reward option, her first debit card purchase was exactly 51 cents. Yes, that’s what I said. She spent less than a dollar to buy a shirt after the sale price and reward points were deducted. Maybe she’ll be okay with this money stuff after all.

She’s pretty educated about vehicle use and maintenance. I insisted she begin pumping her own gas once she started driving, and Mr. Harris has shown her how to check oil and tire pressure. Most of the colleges have eliminated the need for personal transportation though by offering shuttles, bus service and ride shares. We even saw hourly car rentals right on campus, along with scooters. Making transportation this easy eliminates the need for a lot of maintenance instruction as do most newer vehicles, which tell you what it needs. That’s a big difference from when most of us began driving.

Another big change in life is laundry. Long gone are the days of learning to wash and press properly. New machines are so smart all you do is throw clothes in and press the proper button. Getting the laundry from the basket to the closet is the issue we’re working on. Jokingly we suggest basket rentals, but truth be told, we’re so busy everyone’s laundry piles up. My concern is her understanding she may not have access to a fancy washer to do one item in a pinch, so she needs to plan ahead each week.

Keeping a calendar is an ongoing encouragement she continues to resist. I admit I hesitate to push too much on this issue as most of my life is dictated by electronic reminders. I know her fast approaching future will soon slip by one calendar entry at a time, so perhaps we will hold off just a bit longer. After all, life training should also include how to enjoy life.