The Timer Went Off

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors; How a Filibuster Works; Hard Work Matters More than Brains

Jonah’s college acceptance letter has triggered the reality that he’s going to be gone in six months. I have six months left to parent, before he’s gone. He’ll be on his own. And there’s so much left to teach him.

Why Smart Girls Are Better Than Cheerleaders; Why You Should Never Rinse Pasta After You Finish Boiling It

There’s still so much that he doesn’t know, and I don’t have much time. The ten minute drive to his high school is the only time where he’s captive, strapped in the car, forced to listen. I babble using the morning news as the entry into topics that we never talked about before. I have to give him a crash course on life. How did I forget to teach him the difference between the House and the Senate?

The House Writes the Budget Because the Founders Thought that the Branch That Was Closest to the People Should Have the Most Say Over Money and Taxes

Yes, he’ll have to figure out a lot of this on his own, but I could have taught him this earlier. I wasted time. We were too caught up in the details of life — the homework and the soccer practice. And then his friends and cellphone shouted me out.

Your Great-great Grandfather Was a Famous Oboist; Was Napolean Really Short?; Never Put a Red Sweatshirt in the Washing Machine With White Undershirts

He’s undercooked. How is going to fare on a college campus that first semester without this information? This is what happens when a neurotic parent and former college professor starts to panic. She lectures.

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25 thoughts on “The Timer Went Off

    1. Speaking of time passing, I think we were in graduate school together. Mostly you would have known my now-wife (LC, who did some judicial), but I recall your name.

      1. I usually don’t put my full name here so I can insult people without worrying about my mom finding it. I put a comment on your blog with my email. I did IR and started in 1993 if that helps.

  1. If he actually makes it to the communal laundry room (rather than sending out his laundry), he’ll be just fine.

    Plus, there’s youtube!

  2. congrats! Don’t worry, he’ll learn on his own. I cooked pasta for at least a year incorrectly before a Spanish guy laughed at me in a youth hostel. I never cooked it wrong again! I think the laundry info is important though.

  3. He’ll be fine! Pink undershirts and gummy pasta are part of the life learning process. He’ll also probably learn some lessons he’s not comfortable sharing with you, like never mix beer and hard liquor, don’t get really drunk on sweet drinks because the sugar makes the hangover worse, never date a girl and then her roommate, etc. He’ll be fine learning all that too. Then he’ll learn more lessons in his early 20s, like pay your electric bill on time, and clean the bathroom if you want a girlfriend. He’ll be fine then as well. You laid a good foundation, which is all you can do and all he really needs.

  4. My boyfriend lived at home until he was 28, and La Mamma did everything. Well, some time in his mid 20s he had to start doing his own laundry, because his mother is for Italy a hardcore feminist. After about 2 months of dating, where I would cook elaborate meals for him almost every night, I got fed up and told him it was his turn to start cooking. He said he didn’t know how, and I told him I ate pretty much anything and it was time to learn. He made his first dish, pasta with a tomato and onion sauce. It took him about 3 hours and he was on the phone with Mamma the whole time. He now has about 5 sauces under his belt and he can make a frittata. He does about 40 percent of the cooking and all of the dishes.

    (Our last big fight was when I went to visit him and Prague and realized he hadn’t cleaned his toilet in four months. He insisted he had cleaned the toilet, and then I learned he didn’t understand that cleaning the toilet required toilet cleaner. He’d just brushed any noticeable uh, gunk off the inside and called it clean.)

  5. He’ll be fine. He’ll make some mistakes and figure it all out.

    They grow up so fast <—— world's biggest cliche – but it's true! Each age/era seems like it'll last forever and then, blip, it's over before you've done/said everything that you had planned/imagined.

    I think that one of THE hardest things to get used to will be knowing even less about their day-to-day life and experiences. I feel that even now with an 11 year old. And an adult? Ack…

    We all were there and we all screwed up to varying degrees and we all survived fairly unscathed. None of us were/are ever ready for the next stage – we all figure it out as we go along. I know you know this – that if we waited til we were ready, we'd never do anything.

    He's got two great parents who will be there for him no matter what. You and Steve are very lucky and Jonah's very lucky too. And just because he won't be under your roof in six months, the mutual learning from each other will continue (oh how they teach us again and again about our own weaknesses, eh?).

    I'm getting all choked up too!

    1. They can survive anything that doesn’t actually kill them.

      “Each age/era seems like it’ll last forever and then, blip, it’s over before you’ve done/said everything that you had planned/imagined.”

      Yeah, I was just at a playdates with several mothers of 9-11 month olds. A couple of those moms were talking about how the babies were pulling up and not knowing what to do next, and it’s so HARD.

      1. Those were the easy days! I find the whipsaw of tween/teen a challenge. My parenting “bag of tricks” is being challenged. Just when I had it figured out, adolescence hits.

      2. sandrat212,

        My #1 strategy is to find a smart non-me adult that teen respects to say whatever it is needs to be said to her.

        For example, the salon lady can tell her stuff about hair care that would not be well-received coming from me.

        Or the music teacher can tell her about the benefits of more music practice.

        Etc.

  6. Doctors, dentists and insurance, unless he’s going to be really close to home. When and how to go to the emergency room, not necessarily for himself, but as a friend.

    1. If I had to give advice, it would be pay attention those bits in orientation where they tell you who to contact if someone breaks a leg, drinks too much and is unresponsive, etc, and tell him to program those numbers into his cell. Student health clinic, campus police, dean on call. Also, make sure he knows if he doesn’t know what to do in any situation, he should contact his RA.

      Also, the fastest way to get into trouble academically is to skip class, and the easiest way to get a passing grade is to show up. 2 hours of class = 6 hours of trying to learn the material on your own (I made up those precise numbers up), and you still don’t know what the professor thinks is most important.

      1. And I would add, if a class is hard, sit in front and take notes by hand. I was in my 40s when I did my master’s and the 20 somethings would consistently sabotage themselves by being on social media in class and sitting in the back where the instructor could not we confusion on their faces.

  7. “Hard Work Matters More than Brains”

    I’m not totally sure that one is true.

    It’s more of an “all things being equal” type thing.

    The 9th grader is maintaining a 98 (!) in her algebra/trig class and a 99 in her logic class, and I can go weeks without seeing her doing any school work at home. (This comes as a real shock after the years of homework until 10 and 10:30 PM.)

  8. Mine fended me off in the car by plugging their phones into the aux jack and playing music. I did my God damnedest, but they were willfully iggernt.

  9. I stumbled on to the “Grown and Flown” blog a while ago and it has put me into a permanent state of nostalgia. I think in your list, the only thing you have to make sure you teach him is that that his great grandfather was a famous oboeist, because he’ll learn the rest on his own. And, he’ll learn it better if you ask him what happens if you mix the red sweatshirt with the undershirts (does he really have undershirts, and, anyway, these days, red in modern clothing is pretty stable. If he has a red kurta from India, though, he shouldn’t mix that with the white) and have him tell you on the next drive, than if you lecture.

    My kiddo is still further away to flying the nest, but I freak out when I realize that she doesn’t know how to wash a frying pan. But, I also know she’ll survive.

  10. It’s a scary moment when they leave and you realize how much they don’t know. But if you’ve been raising them right, they want to figure that out either by asking you or, increasingly, by turning to others. The most important skill is to help them learn how to find and follow good people.

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