So, it's happened. My oldest child has graduated. Today was her first real day of being an adult. So, I figured it was a good day to break her into the joys of adulthood (haha), which was made even easier for me by my other three children's complete disregard for things like alarm clocks and being on time. All three woke up late with a variety of excuses and were late for school. So, Hayley got to drive first Hannah to the high school, then Harrison to the elementary school and finally Arlie to the junior high school (yes, I know it's out of order, that's how late Arlie was). I was understandably very annoyed by this turn of events seeing as I had awakened at 4 a.m. with a migraine hangover and fallen back to sleep at 6 but still managed to get myself up and running in time for work. The final straw was my inability to find my tweezers, which made me get very angry and want to move away to my own house, or even a small hollow in a hillside - anywhere people would keep their grubby paws off my shit. But I digress. At any rate, Hayley and I debated on whether to write excuse notes for the aforementioned tardy children. I said no. She said yes. She said if I just wrote the notes, it would "make everything better" and I said well, guess what, when you're an adult no one "makes it all better" so no notes. She said the consequences might be humiliating. I said that's why they're effective. And on and on.
Later in the day, Hayley had to get her own prescription refilled, made her own doctor's appointment, and then picked up dinner (frozen pizza). Of course, this was financed by MY debit card which she conveniently "forgot" to return to my wallet last night so that when I was rushing to work after the whole "tardy child" fiasco, and had no time for breakfast, or time to make my lunch for that matter, I found myself with no cash or debit card at the coffee stand where I was attempting to purchase a mocha, a muffin and a bagel for lunch (carbalicious?). Thankfully they accepted my credit card.
Lucky for Hayley, she immediately got a job after graduation. I offered her $5 a day to make lunches for the kids (and me). She should make a grand total of $25 before the school year is over - big bucks! Anyway, her first day on the job she left an entire package of bologna out on the counter overnight which had to be thrown away. I figure by the time I take it out of her wages, she'll net about $1.43.
This evening I reminded her she needed to do the dishes in order to get dinner going. So she unloaded and loaded the dishwasher and put the pizzas in the oven. I asked her to do something else and she retorted "Give me a break, I'm doing everything here!" and I said "welcome to adulthood!"
I just hope she has the tools to make it in the world. As a mom, I've done all I can to teach her the really important things in life like shopping first from the clearance rack and how to make perfect chocolate frosting. But this is a child who asked to borrow my deodorant because she couldn't "find" hers and has "forgotten" to bring the milk in from the delivery cooler until Thursday when the delivery is on Monday. She's not above pulling her favorite shirt out of the dirty laundry to wear or "losing" her keys for days, only to have ME find them under the covers on her bed.
I'm not sure if it's the relief from being free of high school, or if it was just a particularly good weekend, but last night she was in a good mood and made an effort to go to Arlie's room and give her a good night hug. As soon as she retreated down the stairs, Arlie came to my room and said "This niceness is creeping me out! Who took Hayley?" Is it a sign of maturity? One can hope.
So, I can only offer up some sage advice on this, the occasion of graduation and becoming an adult, to my daughter, and all you youngsters just making your way into the world. Here's what I know:
- Sometimes really crappy stuff will happen. You'll feel horrible and won't be able to imagine a.) how anything more horrible can ever happen and b.) how you will ever get through it. The answers to those two are a.) it can and b.) you will.
- Keep jumper cables in your car and never let your gas go below a quarter of a tank.
- Always have a snack and a drink handy. You just never know, and it sucks to be starving or parched, especially when you're out of cash.
- If hanging out with someone makes you feel tired, annoyed or drains you of energy, move on. Life is too short to have people suck the life out of you.
- If you think you're in love with someone, or you're sure he/she is "the one" ask yourself this: do they ever make you feel worthless? Do they make you a priority? Do you feel safe? If the answers are yes, no and no, move on. Plenty of fish in the sea. Really, there are!
- Learn how to cook a decent meal. Start with lasagna, salad and garlic bread. It's easy and feeds a crowd. Find a good recipe or have someone teach you. A home-cooked meal will kick the crap out of a restaurant meal and it's cheaper.
- Don't buy anything unless it's on sale or you have a coupon. EVERYTHING goes on sale eventually.
- Keep your space clean. Whether it's half a dorm room or your first apartment, take some pride in your space and keep it neat. It will make you feel better and you'll always be ready for visitors.
- Speaking of visitors, have them often. Stay socially involved, and not just online. Have face-to-face time with your best friends, and make new friends everywhere you go.
- If you receive a gift, send a thank-you note. It's not old-fashioned, it's decent manners. Everyone appreciates it.
- Find a worthy cause to volunteer. Whether it's a small amount of money or a sliver of your time, help someone out on a regular basis.
- If you take medication, do it diligently. Take care of your health. It's your most valuable asset.
- Wear sunscreen and take a multivitamin!
- Exercise! Even if you hate it, you need it and it doesn't have to be torture. Take a walk, take the stairs, no need for a pricey gym (but if you have a free workout room at college or your apartment, take advantage of it!)
- Work. Get a job, part-time, full-time whatever. If you're going to school, still work part-time. The experience will be invaluable and everyone needs to earn their own money, even if mom and dad are providing a full ride.
- If your parents have provided you with a college education, do not take it for granted. Get good grades and thank them every chance you get.
- Remember that you have no one to blame but yourself if you make bad choices. You have the power to choose between right and wrong every day so do it right.
- Every once in a while stay in your jammies and have a lazy day. Just not EVERY day.
- Eat your fruits and veggies!
- Remember that the days of you being the center of the universe are OVER. Time to put others before yourself sometimes.
- And finally, try to laugh every day. Remember that the worst is rarely the worst and whatever happens, you WILL grow through it and over it and life will go on. Keep a sense of humor about you at all times and don't take life too seriously. No one gets out of it alive! :)
I love you, Hayley! On to bigger and better things!!