It has recently come to my attention that a lot of the things I take for granted aren’t common knowledge. At least not with the younger set. Usually, I don’t like calling attention the the fact that I’m not among that younger generation, but sometimes it makes me happy. Sometimes I think I am turning into my mother. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing after all. Although I largely ignored her advice in favor of learning just about everything the hard way, I still believe it is important to educate the young (even when they aren't listening).
Among the ‘obvious’ things I would like say to youngsters:
1. For those who go after you
If upon leaving the bathroom you find it doesn’t smell quite as fresh as it did when you entered, leave the door open! Or at least open a window. This is being kind to the next person to go in by protecting their eyebrows from being singed off. A closed door means that even hours later, you have still left your identifying mark on the room. Just because someone doesn’t yell, “Saint Peter on a Pony!” when they open the door doesn’t mean it smells of roses. They have probably lost their ability to speak.
2. But she’s hungry!
The family dogs don’t beg because they are hungry. They beg because they know you will give in and feed them pizza. Giving in with just one bite will never make them leave you alone. It might, however, encourage them stake their claim by placing a paw in the middle of your plate (and everyone else’s). Remember where those cute little paws have been.
3. Why are there no clean glasses?
Dishes don’t magically float through the air to the sink, wash themselves and then put themselves back into the cupboard. If, upon opening the cupboard, you find there are no clean glasses, it is safe to assume they are all exactly where you set them down throughout the house. Do you actually mean, “Why haven’t you washed the dirty glasses I left all over the house?” If so, it’s in your best interest to keep that to yourself.
4. Where are my favorite jeans?
See #3. To my knowledge, clothing hasn’t achieved the higher state of consciousness that would allow it to levitate to the washing machine.
5. Is this ok to eat?
If it looks funny and smells funny, it’s probably funny. Eating something questionable, however, will not result in laughter. At least not for you.
6. Is there any ice?
If you emptied the last of the ice into your glass and didn’t refill the trays, guess what. There’s no ice. Again, refer to #3.
All this applies to living at home, but a brand new set of weirdness happens when you set your sails and head off to live on your own:
1. I just got paid, but I’m broke!
Welcome to being a grown up. The only thing worse than being broke is having a job and being broke. There is a mysterious thing that happens with money. Once it is spent, it is gone. And utility companies are strange little entities in that they like to be paid for giving you water and electricity. If they aren’t paid, they generally sever their relationship with you. Unfortunately, landlords are also unusual characters who enjoy the mutually beneficial situation that happens when they let you live in their apartment and you pay them for the privilege.
2. My car isn’t working
Did you change the oil? Is there gas in it? These are important things to tackle before the car actually dies. Waiting until after it dies is usually not the best game-plan.
3. Oh, I’m just sitting here having a beer and smoking a cigar.
I’m sorry, do I know you? First, moms, no matter how open and honest you are with them, do not like to imagine their kids sitting at home having a tall, frosty brew. Give her at least a few years to come to terms with the fact that you aren’t a teenager anymore and it will go over a lot better. And smoking a cigar? You want to put your mother in her grave. That’s it, right? You’d probably have a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking party right on top of her grave.
4. I hate my job, and my boss is an idiot
Awwww. You have taken your place among the Great Unwashed like the rest of us. No, money trees do not exist. Not even if you did see one in a video game.
5. I hate college
Really? Then you probably ought to carve out your niche with the Great Unwashed. I see a lot of Ramen and clearance bins in your future. Also, see #4 above. Before you know it, you’ll be wearing a special name tag that identifies you to your employees . . . who think you are an idiot.
Remember, your mother is not stupid, nor is she out of touch with reality. She knows you are not stupid either, which is why she gives you these gentle reminders. Growing up isn’t easy, so you should listen to your mother. She wasn’t born a cranky, 42 year old woman with frown lines. She tells you these things because she didn’t listen to her mother, and screwed up in pretty much the same ways you do.
To quote mothers from generations ago through all the generations to come: “I only tell you this because I love you”.
We mean it.