Let’s Go To The Movies

Yesterday I checked the Fathom Events website to see what old movies will be shown in theaters this month. If you’re not familiar with it, Fathom Events, in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies, releases at least one “old” movie a month in theaters all over the country, and sometimes you can find a favorite.

In the past, I’ve seen Big with my friends and their daughters. For my 50th birthday, some friends took me to Smokey and the Bandit…and even smuggled in Dr. Peppers in glass bottles for us to enjoy during the show! If they’d known how to make a Diablo Sandwich (from the movie), I’m sure they would have smuggled that in too. We also saw, on another occasion, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and last year, I forced my teenage daughter to go watch Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with me, in hopes that she would fall in love with the movie I had watched with my mother and had loved for so long. No dice…she fell asleep about halfway through it.

This time, when I checked the website, I was thrilled. Today and Wednesday night, May 8, True Grit will be on the big screen in a theater near our house, and later in the month, Steel Magnolias, a favorite of many of my friends, will be shown.

True Grit was a favorite of my daddy’s. He loved John Wayne, and he loved westerns, so True Grit was the perfect combination. And Rooster Cogburn is a memorable character. The film was originally released 50 years ago, in 1969. I remember watching it on television with my parents when I was a little girl. Back then, we had to wait a couple of years for a movie to show up on TV…edited and censored.  I don’t remember much about the plot, so I guess I’ll need to go see it Wednesday night to try to refresh my memory. Daddy would have loved knowing I’m planning to go.

As for Steel Magnolias, being shown in theaters May 19, 20, and 21, well, I have lots of friends who can quote the whole movie. It’s difficult for me to believe it is the 30th anniversary of its release. I guess I was pushing 22 years old when it came out. Anyone who grew up in the south can relate to the characters. In fact, many of us see ourselves in certain characters. While the southern accents are a little difficult to bear at times, I can get past that for the plot of the film, because truly, I feel like I know these women. I feel like I have met someone just like each of them at some point in my life. If you’re familiar with the film, I’d love to hear which one you think you are. I know I’m not Truvy. And I know I’m not Annelle or Shelby. I think I’m probably most like M’Lynn with a helping of Ouiser and a little slice of Clairee. Maybe? My friends might think differently…

No matter which Steel Magnolias character you think you are (or aspire to be!), this is a good opportunity to see it on the big screen again. Movies are at their best on the big screen…with a big tub of popcorn, some Milk Duds, and a soda. I plan to be there.

To see the schedule of re-releases by Fathom Events and TCM, check out the website here. In addition to their partnership with TCM Big Screen Classics, they also offer lots of other events on the big screen…boxing matches, ballet, operas, and more.

See you at the movies!

 

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Finish Well

It’s May…or what we call “Maycember,” because it’s as busy as the holidays. I’m taking a deep breath and thanking the Lord we made it through April before I dive in for the last five weeks of school. We need to finish well.

The last week of April was full of surprises at our house. Our checking account was hacked. My car was clipped in the Target parking lot by a man who was convinced he “had the right of way” until I proved him wrong. Not that it mattered if he had the right of way…he hit my car! And I had various meetings at school for projects there, and at home, for projects there.

So, I’m actually happy to see April in my rearview mirror. May is usually a happy month in our household. It is the month of Mother’s Day, my husband’s birthday, and my birthday! It’s also the last month of school for our daughter and her classmates. May 31st is their last official day of school, and mine is counting down. Because they have a few days off between now and then, I count only 17 more school day wake ups. As my daddy used to say, “You can make 17 days standing on your head!”

Of course, by this point in the school year, we’re all tired of school. We love our school, but, dang it…I’m ready for summer! It happens to me every single year. And I know our daughter is ready…pool time, social time, vacations, free time…she is soooo ready, but first, she has to finish her freshman year of high school.

While I have been telling her we just need to survive the last five weeks of school, she recently reminded me she needs to finish well. She’s right. I was so happy to hear her say that, because I’ve heard the head of her school say it many times. I’ve heard him tell us in Parents’ Council meetings that it’s not just about finishing…it’s about finishing well.

How do we encourage our kids to finish well? How do we, as parents, finish well?

With exams standing between our daughter and the lazy-is days of summer, we know we need to do everything we can to help her finish well. We will make sure she is well-fed and as well-rested as any teenager can be. On the advice of a friend, I will help her get her room clean before she starts studying for exams…just to get rid of clutter (and there is clutter). We will stock the pantry with all her favorite junk food snacks and some healthy options too. (See below for her list of favorites.) We will make her laugh. We will remind her to take breaks. We might suggest she watch some familiar, comforting TV shows like iCarly, Zoey 101, Henry Danger, and Drake and Josh during breaks. We will offer encouragement and be available. We encourage our daughter to look at things from a positive perspective, and I think that is crucial as the end of the school year approaches. And if she finds she needs extra help studying for exams, we will get her that too. Whatever it takes to finish well.

I’ve given it some thought, and for me, personally, finishing well means going into the final five weeks of school with a good attitude. It means putting a smile on my face, participating in end-of-year meetings, and circling back with friends before we get out for school. It means I need to appear calm throughout our daughter’s exams, so I can don’t stress her out. It means shoring up our plans for the summer, and making sure the whole family is on the same page…coordinating our calendars.

So here we go…the countdown is on. Only 17 more school day wake ups. Only 17 more times to get up early and get out the door. Let’s finish well!

And then we can enjoy the lazy, fun, crazy days of summer!

Bring on the vacations!

Finish well!

Our daughter’s favorite snacks, healthy and not-so-healthy:

  • Bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Berries
  • Cheerios
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Pop Tarts
  • Cheez-Its
  • Cheetos
  • Oatmeal
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Cinnamon Toast
  • Waffles
  • Granola/cereal bars
  • Ice cream

 

Poking The Bear

animal animal photography bear big

Photo by Photo Collections on Pexels.com

My husband and I were talking last night about the losses we have had to endure since we were married. He lost his beloved grandmother in 2005. I lost my dad in 2006, and then I lost my mother in December 2017. We were devastated over every single loss, and honestly, it sticks with us. I don’t walk around in a state of sadness. I’m generally pretty happy, but occasionally, the sadness will break through, but I never know when that will be. And the interesting thing is that sometimes, the grief doesn’t manifest itself as sadness. It manifests itself as forgetfulness, indifference, or anger.

The forgetful part of grief just can’t be explained. I don’t know if my brain went into pure survival mode after each loss, but in the first six to eight months after each loss, I couldn’t remember anything, and I’m known for having a good memory. With the loss of my mother in December 2017, it seems to have lasted longer. It has been 16 months (to the day) since she died, and I’m still having trouble with my memory. Obviously, I loved my mother, but I think the loss of a second parent is more difficult, even in my 50s, simply because I know I don’t have a parent anymore. It does a number on the brain. My brain seems to have channeled all its energy into survival mode, and a lot has fallen by the wayside, including my memory. In fact, I’m hoping my memory is in recovery mode now, but if I forgot something that was important to you…I’m sorry. I’ve even forgotten things that were important to me.

Indifference comes into play when I hear someone complain about something that I think is not a big deal in comparison to losing a loved one. Indifference comes into play when I think someone is making a mountain out of a molehill…and I tend to think that a lot. During the past week, my bank account was hacked, and I had to set up a new checking account. Ugh. Also, during the past week, an angry driver, who mistakenly thought he had the right of way in the Target parking lot, clipped my car. It was annoying. I know people who would have cried and would still be crying about both events, but I have the perspective of grief. I know those things aren’t small problems, but they aren’t as big as losing a loved one. Seriously, grief changes your perspective. A grieving person might even be indifferent about something that is important to you. Planning a party? The grieving person might not care about coming to your party. Don’t be offended.

Anger is a whole different beast. I’m not really into astrology, but anyone who knows I’m a Gemini would say I’m a true Gemini. I’m happy-go-lucky most of the time, and I truly want to be happy-go-lucky all of the time, but if I’m cornered or pushed too far…not so happy-go-lucky. In grief, the “not so happy-go-lucky” part is more easily triggered. It’s not something I’m proud of. It’s not something I want to continue, and I work really hard to keep it in check, but I think, in grief, we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Well, maybe I shouldn’t generalize. Maybe I should say, “In grief, I wear my heart on my sleeve.” I’ve never been one to “get my feelings hurt,” and I’m still not. In grief, I don’t “get my feelings hurt,” but I do find I’m more quickly angered. That doesn’t mean I’m always angry. It means I don’t want anyone to poke the bear.

The one emotion everyone expects from grieving people is sadness. And yes, I’ve had profound sadness. For a month after Mother died, I went to bed. I barely functioned. I’ve written about it before. I gave myself permission to stay in bed for that month…crying whenever I needed to. After that, I forced myself to get up and get moving, but that doesn’t mean the sadness didn’t creep through every now and then…it still does. In fact, on the 30th of every month, I find myself calculating how long Mother has been gone…just as I did for years after Daddy died. Now I don’t have any parents. I don’t have a mother or daddy I can call for advice. Fortunately, I have some trusted family members, but they’re still not my mother or daddy.

So here’s what I’m telling you. A grieving person might be wearing their emotions on their sleeves for a long time. We all grieve differently, but don’t be surprised if your grieving friend is emotional for longer than you expect. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get the reactions you expect. Don’t be surprised if they forget things…even important things. Don’t be surprised if they are quick to anger.

In fact, I think of the grieving person as a bear. A bear lives in survival mode, except for the hibernation period, which was also part of grief for me. If there is something you wouldn’t do to a bear…annoy it, anger it, corner it…then don’t do that to your grieving friend. Look at the claws on the bear in the picture above…that’s what grief can bring out.

Simply put…don’t poke the bear.

***Please note: if you are grieving and having difficulty returning to regular life activities, please seek professional help. ***

 

 

 

 

 

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Need Gift Ideas for Mom?

Mother’s Day is May 12. Need some gift ideas? What is the perfect Mother’s Day gift?

Ask different moms, and you will get different answers. Some want jewelry. Some want flowers. Some want to spend time with their families, while others would want to have  time alone…in the form of a massage or a facial. Or maybe they just want to be alone.

I’ll tell you what I want for Mother’s Day. I want to have some time with my family over brunch on Mother’s Day, and I’d like to have some time to just hang out with my 15-yr-old daughter with no distractions…maybe check into a local hotel for one night, find some movies or sports to watch on TV, and order room service. That would be a great gift…hint, hint.

On Mother’s Day, every year, we go to brunch as a family at our country club. I make the reservation well in advance and select a table for us on the terrace…the indoor terrace. I don’t want to have to battle the elements…sun? rain? wind? bugs? I’ll stay indoors for brunch, thank you. One year, when the club was undergoing renovations, we had brunch in a big tent outside on the back patio of the club. There was live music, and it was beautiful, but it was a little warm. The food was great. The atmosphere was great, but I don’t like sweating while I dine. I’m glad that renovation is done.

I’ve spoken with some of my friends about how they would spend their ideal Mother’s Day, and here are some of the answers:

  • Sleep in. Breakfast (with hot coffee) in bed. Go for a mani/pedi later in the day with friends.
  • Have friends over with their families to swim in the backyard pool and cook out.
  • Spend the night in a hotel alone the night before and then brunch with the family.
  • Go to an afternoon movie with some other mom friends and go out for dinner with them afterward.

And when I asked my friends about Mother’s Day gifts, almost all of them said no gift was required…but it’s nice. That’s how I feel.

If you need some Mother’s Day gift ideas, here are a few I’ve found in my shopping adventures over the past few months:

  • Good Measure Cocktail Recipe Pitcher. Y’all, I’m not kidding when I say this is pure genius. Like to make summer cocktails by the pitcher? Well, you need this pitcher to help make them just right! I got one for myself and then purchase another one as a gift recently. I think they are great! In fact, I might get mine out and use it today. Get it at Amazon here.
  • Bathrobe. I know…it sounds boring, but no one wants to buy themselves a bathrobe. Get her a really good quality one…maybe one from her favorite luxury hotel? If she doesn’t have a favorite luxury hotel, then you can find a great one here. the-ritz-carlton-waffle-terry-robe-rtz-404-01_lrg
  • Live Plants. If she is into gardening, you might get her some live plants to add to her garden. If not, most people enjoy having some live plants indoors. Personally, I would love it if I came home from brunch and my husband planted a few tomato plants for me on Mother’s Day. Last year, he planted them, and I took care of them, and it turned out to be a great combination. We had tomatoes galore! Nobody loves homegrown tomatoes more than I do.IMG_3414
  • Patio Furniture. This doesn’t necessarily mean a whole patio of furniture, though mine needs replacing now. My mother had a favorite chair on her patio. I’d like to have my chair on the patio. (But I also need all the other seating to be replaced.)IMG_3413
  • Photo book. I’ve been a prolific Shutterfly.com customer for years, and if I had been smart over the past 15 years, I would have asked my husband and daughter to make me a custom photo book on the website for the past 15 years. In fact, I will be asking them to do that this year. You can make photo books on Shutterfly.com here.
  • Jewelry. I don’t need a lot of jewelry, but some moms are really into the jewelry. If she has a Pandora bracelet, they make Mother’s Day charms. Tiffany.com has a Mother’s Day gift guide, with prices for jewelry starting at $135…and you know they are quality gifts.IMG_3416
  • Baked By Melissa. I’m a sucker for these bite-sized treats. If you’re not familiar with them, you can see them here. They have special Mother’s Day gift boxes…just order online and have them shipped directly to Mom! And they are delicious.

Don’t forget…Mother’s Day is May 12. Make brunch reservations and order gifts now. You’ll be ahead of the curve, and you won’t find yourself scrambling for a way to honor Mom on the big day.

Long Distance Friends

For Easter weekend, my daughter had a friend fly in from Ohio to spend a few days with us. The friend is the daughter of one of my friends.

The girls have been friends since they were about two. Their birthdays are one month apart. They are both only children. My friend, her husband, and her daughter moved to Ohio from Charlotte when our girls were four. We were brokenhearted when they moved, but we’ve made a point to vacation together every year since.

A few weeks before Easter, I texted my friend, Jennifer, and asked if her daughter might be able to come spend Easter with us. She promptly booked the flights, and on Good Friday, my daughter and I drove in the pouring rain to the airport to pick up her friend. We opted to park in short-term parking, so we could walk in and meet her. When we got inside the baggage claim area, we discovered the flight was more delayed than we thought. We waited. And we waited. And finally, we saw it had arrived.

We all hugged in the airport and headed home.

Here’s the point of this story: the two 15-yr-old girls acted like they had never been apart. They haven’t seen each other since January, but they picked up exactly where they had left off. When we got home, they went up to my daughter’s room and chatted and laughed. They made cookies. They ate late-night snacks. And they laughed.

The next night, another childhood friend slept over at our house. She is also a beloved friend…the daughter of another friend who lives local. The three of them laughed till their stomachs hurt…it was like music to my ears.

They woke up on Easter morning and came down to see if the Easter Bunny had visited, and indeed, he had. They rummaged through their baskets to find candy, soaps, lotions, a garden gnome, bunny slippers…and Kooky Klickers, a childhood toy they all hung on their book bags in elementary school. Everybody loves nostalgia. And after we had taken some photos, I was their short-order cook: pancakes, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese grits…anything they wanted. I had all those “little girls” together again. Sure, they’re fifteen, but every time I looked at them, I saw the giggling four-year-olds. Happiness. Comfort. Love. That’s what I saw.

Fifteen is a tough age for girls. If you ever were a 15-yr-old girl, you remember it. They can’t drive, but they want to have social lives. They try to make plans, but their plans have to coincide with their parents’ plans. They are in high school and still figuring out who they are. We have to let them make decisions, and sometimes they make bad decisions, but they learn from them. As freshmen, they are the low people on the totem pole in high school…and they are very aware of it.

Last year, I went to hear a well-known psychologist (and author!)speak about teenagers. Her name is Lisa Damour, and she is full of all kinds of wisdom. She’s not bossy or judgy…she’s real. You can see her Facebook page here. (She writes a monthly column for The New York Times.)What I remember most is that she compared the world to a big swimming pool. Basically, she said we have to let our teenagers swim out into that pool (the world). Sometimes, they get too far from the side or they feel like they are going to drown, so they hurry back to the side. We, as parents, are the side of the pool.  After they hang on for a minute, they swim back to the center of the pool. And that’s how it goes with teenagers…they swim out and come back to us for a moment of support, and then they swim back out there.

Over Easter weekend, I think my daughter felt like she was back in the kiddie pool with her childhood friends. She didn’t feel like she had to be out in the big pool. She was happy to be right there with them, and she never needed to swim to the side.

Her friends had to go home after a fun weekend, but my daughter had gained comfort and new confidence from swimming in the kiddie pool for a few days. She was ready to go back to school and tackle the rest of the school year.

And now, she just has to make it through five more weeks of school to make it to the freedom of summer. We will vacation with our Ohio friends this summer. We don’t know what we’ll do, but we will definitely spend some time with them, because the best friends to have are those who want nothing from you but your company…and they are those, indeed.

 

My Favorite Easter Gifts

I went to Target last night in search of items to put in my teenage daughter’s Easter basket. For the last few years, a friend of hers…we’ll call her Lu…has slept over at our house the night before Easter. It has become a tradition, and I love it! I get to put together two Easter baskets! This year, though, I get to put together three, because her friend from Ohio is flying in to spend the weekend with us too!

Last week, I did some shopping for them at a local store called Paper Skyscraper and got some really cute items there…Greenwich Trading Company soaps, bunny slippers, and more. I’ve also ordered some favorite childhood collectibles on eBay, but last night, I was on a candy mission.

Easter candy is the best. I know you’re thinking Valentine or Christmas candy might be better, but I’m telling you, Easter candy wins, hands down.

Every year, when they put the Easter candy out…right after Valentine’s Day…I purchase some Whoppers Mini Robin Eggs. I don’t eat Whoppers any other time of year, but at Easter, I want the Mini Robin Eggs. They make me think of my friend, Angela. We have been friends for 33 years, so we’ve made lots of crazy memories. In the early 2000s, when we were both married without children, I visited her around Easter one year, and we sat on the sofa in her den, laughing and eating Whoppers Mini Robin Eggs. We might have eaten them till we both felt sick. But the point is…I have to buy them every year, because they make me think of Angela and good times!

I have other favorites too, so whether she likes them or not, my daughter gets these candies every year:

  • Peeps. I think Peeps are the best-selling Easter candies. Some people absolutely love them. Me? Not so much. But the Easter Bunny put them in my basket every year anyway. As an adult, I’ve discovered they aren’t that bad, but still not my favorites to eat. They are, however, necessities for Easter baskets. It just wouldn’t be an Easter basket without Peeps. I feel pretty sure my daughter throws them away every year, but this year, she and her friends will be getting a Peeps candy/sock gift combo. So cute!s-l1600-2
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. When I was a little girl, Daddy would give us our “allowance” on Saturday mornings and take us to the “candy store,” which was really a little, locally-owned convenience store called Murphy’s. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were always there, and they were always kind to us. We would go in with our money and pick the candies we wanted. My favorite was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I would pick up those first, before getting Now & Laters, Super Bubble Bubble Gum, a Three Musketeers Bar, Spree, a Blow Pop, and sometimes a Marathon Bar. But Reese’s were my favorite. Somehow, the Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs taste more like the peanut butter cups tasted when I was a child. Whether my daughter likes it or not, she’s getting those.9101dS1S5jL._SX522_
  • Pez. Come on…Easter baskets wouldn’t be complete without an Easter-themed Pez dispenser. Little chick? Little Lamb? Little Easter Bunny? Sold! Pez candies are OK tasting, but the real novelty is in the dispenser. easter-pez-127510-im1
  • Fun Dip. My daughter loved Fun Dip when she was little, and so did I. They make a “spring” edition….pastel colors. She’ll be getting some in her basket, and so will her friends!springtime-fun-dip-multi-pack-16ct-sold-out-2
  • Chocolate Bunny. I don’t care if it’s good chocolate or cheap chocolate. Because I always received a chocolate bunny in my Easter basket, my daughter and her friends get chocolate bunnies too. One year, my daughter left it on the dining room table…right where the sun shines through the window. I walked in later to find an unidentifiable chocolate creature that looked a little zombie-ish, because it had melted.Palmer-Hollow-Milk-Chocolate-Bunny
  • Chocolate Cross. It’s Easter, people. solid-chocolate-cross-2-5oz-milk-or-white-chocolate-22

And then, there are gifts of the non-candy variety:

  • Devotional Book or Bible. There are devotional books that contain daily or weekly devotionals. There are books that explain The Bible in plain speak. There are books of Bible stories for children…and frankly, I see no shame in reading those myself! When we were little, Mother would read to us nightly from a children’s book of Bible stories. Amazon offers lots of options for devotional books and Bibles. I found one for teenage girls here.51LHcMF7M7L._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_

Silver cross necklace. Nordstrom has a nice variety of cross necklaces…a meaningful gift to add to the Easter basket. You can see their selection here.

There are other little things I put into the baskets on Easter, so I’m going to share some of those ideas too (some will appear in baskets this year):

  • Lip gloss
  • Hand lotion
  • Garden gnome (every…single…year)
  • Flower seeds or Grow Kit
  • Starbucks gift card
  • Other gift cards (Chick-Fil-A, Target, Smoothie King, etc.)
  • Good-smelling soaps. I purchased some made by Greenwich Trading Company.
  • Lacrosse and field hockey balls.
  • Decorative cross. Again, it’s Easter, and a decorative cross makes a lovely gift any time of year…to remember He is risen.

Happy Easter, friends! Christ died so we could have everlasting life, and on the third day, He arose. Let’s celebrate His resurrection.

 

Teens and Life Skills

A friend and I were talking a couple of weeks ago, and she told me about an experience she had with a babysitter the weekend before.

She and her husband were going out at night and asked a teenager to babysit their nine-year-old daughter. The daughter had not had dinner, so my friend got out a few canned items, put them on the counter, and told the babysitter to heat those up when the little girl got hungry.

When she got home, the cans were still on the counter. Worried her daughter had not eaten dinner, she asked the babysitter, “Did she eat dinner?” The babysitter told her that her daughter had, indeed, eaten dinner, but she gave her something else, because...she…did…not…know…how…to…open…the…cans. 

We had a good laugh about it, but it made me think: does my own 15-year-old daughter know how to open a can? That afternoon, when my daughter got home from sports practice, I asked her, “Do you know how to use a can opener?” She assured me she did. Hmmm…. I took her into the kitchen so she could prove it to me. And she did. Whew!

When she was younger, we once had a housekeeper who wouldn’t let our daughter do anything for herself: put on her shoes; get dressed…she was two or three…old enough to put on her own slip-on shoes, but the housekeeper would always run over and try to help her. She could do it fine when the housekeeper wasn’t around! It drove me insane! If that housekeeper had remained with us, our daughter might not know how to do anything!

I know people have their own ideas about what teens need to know before they graduate from high school. I’m not even going to look at anyone else’s online list, but I’m going to share my own ideas with you.

  • Use a can opener to open a can. Obviously.
  • Crack an egg and scramble it. If you can’t cook anything else, this one is essential, preferably without eggshells in it.
  • First Aid. Know how to stop/treat bleeding; recognize if you need stitches; How to make a temporary sling; recognize serious illness (appendicitis, heart attack, etc.); treat a bloody nose; treat a bee sting. It’s also very important to know how to operate an Epipen; you never know when you will be the only one who knows how to do it in an emergency!
  • Heimlich maneuver. This is an important one. I’ve known several people who have been saved by it. They also need to know how to perform the Heimlich on themselves in case they are alone and choking.
  • Escape a burning building. It’s important to know to stay low and move swiftly. Don’t open a door if it feels hot to the touch. And more…
  • Budget. It can be difficult to budget. When I was first out of college and making very little money, it was all about choices. I learned to pay essentials first, set some money aside for saving, and make good choices about what I wanted to do. Sometimes, I had to pass on some things I wanted to do.
  • Write a check. Check-writing is rare these days, but it is a necessary life skill. By the time our teenagers are in their 30s, checks might be obsolete, but for now, they need to know how to write a check. It’s also important to know how to do banking transactions: deposits, withdrawals, transfers, etc.
  • Check the oil in an automobile and add engine oil. You don’t want your child to find herself 200 miles from home with the “add engine oil” light on in her car, but if she does, you want her to know what to do.
  • Put gas in a car. One would think this is obvious, but in New Jersey, it’s illegal to pump your own gas, so I wonder what happens to those people when they get to another state? Years ago, I knew a woman whose husband had always pumped gas into her car for her. While that’s gallant (my husband takes my car to fill it up regularly), it’s important to know how to pump gas.
  • Negotiate new cities (without fear). This is not an innate skill. It is one that is acquired by experience, and it is crucial for survival, if your child plans to do any travel. I learned it as a teen.
  • Swim. Yes, everyone needs to know how to swim. It doesn’t have to be pretty.
  • Pack a suitcase. Someone once told me about an adult (over 40) whose mother packed her suitcase for a vacation. While I hate packing, I know how to do it. I’ve been doing it since my first trip to Disney world when I was six. My daughter hates it too, but she has been packing her own suitcase since she was about seven or eight. *She went on an adventure trip to Iceland last summer, and someone who “had the inside scoop” insisted on packing for her, and I was OK with it, because we know nothing about wilderness packing…and frankly, we don’t need to know.* It’s not likely she’ll do another trip like that again…she is her mother’s daughter and likes nice hotels.
  • Iron a shirt/pants. I can iron just about anywhere…a floor, a bed, a countertop. I grew up ironing, and I actually enjoy it. Need some ironing done? Invite me over, and if you’ll chat me up, I’ll catch up all your ironing…just ask my friend, Angela, whose ironing I’ve done before! My teen daughter knows how to iron. She also knows how to use a steamer to release wrinkles from her clothes.
  • Check in for flights at the airport. People need to know how to make sure their bags have name tags on them; check in; get boarding passes; check bags; clear airport security; find their gate; change planes; stow baggage on planes; and retrieve their bags at their destination. They also need to know how to get ground transportation.
  • How to cross a city street on foot. Kids who don’t live in urban areas don’t learn how to cross city streets on foot unless they have some practice doing it. It’s a life skill.
  • How to tip. Living in the US, it’s important to know how/when to tip. They need to know how much to tip in different situations and when to tip. My daughter does her own tipping at restaurants with friends. I now encourage her to do some of the tipping at the airport (skycaps) and hotels (bellman, valet, doorman, housekeeping),  so she will become comfortable with it.
  • Clean a toilet. You don’t have to enjoy it, but you have to do it.
  • Vacuum.
  • Use a plunger in a toilet. Definitely need to know how to do this. It’s not fun, but it’s essential.
  • Repair a hem. I don’t care if she uses hemming tape, but it needs to work.
  • Sew a button onto a shirt/jacket/pants, etc. When I was fresh out of college, I worked as a flight attendant. I arrived at a hotel one night to realize one of the buttons was falling off my blouse. The hotel had a sewing kit, and I re-attached the button with ease. Not everyone can do it. Teach your children.
  • General safety. Safest places to park. Be aware of surroundings. How to know if you’re being followed, and what to do if you are. What to do if you’re approached by a stranger. The necessity of locating emergency exits in buildings, theaters, hotels (and planes) all the time…especially crowded ones. How to avoid dangerous situations. What to do in active shooter situation.
  • Weather safety. Growing up in Alabama, we had to know what to do in case of a tornado. Even though they are rare where we live, it’s important to know. Know what to do in lightning.
  • Use a bottle opener, a corkscrew, and open a bottle of champagne properly and safely. Sounds basic, I know, but a lot of adults don’t know how to use a corkscrew. And the cork isn’t supposed to fly out of a champagne bottle (dangerous) or make a lot of noise. It’s an art. It’s one they shouldn’t need till they’re over 21, but just in case…they need to know how dangerous a flying champagne cork can be.

I know I’m forgetting some things, so feel free to comment any skills you want to add. I know “change a tire” will be on there, but that one is iffy. While I know how to change a tire, lug nuts are often difficult to remove, and lots of newer cars don’t carry spares. Therefore, it’s important to know how to call for roadside assistance (through the manufacturer or AAA). There are lots of other necessary life skills…recognize an abusive relationship; when to walk away; etc.

Let’s hear your suggestions…