There are basics in everything, even parenting.

I read this article today about wardrobe basics.  I’m forever trying to stock my closet so I look like…well, someone super cool.  It never works, and I default to the navy blue T-shirt and jeans just about every day, but it’s still a new year so I’ll delude myself a bit longer.  As I made my list of things that I need to make my wardrobe “user friendly” once and for all, I started thinking about other basics.

My oldest daughter left to go back to school today.  She’s not that far away, but when she is at school, she’s not part of the day to day.  I miss her and I tend to reflect on the incredible young woman she has become as she drives away.

I suppose the basics for parenting would start with love, that’s an important one.  Children, teenagers, and adults all need love, no question.  Children also need, at varying stages, to feel safe, accepted, they need boundaries, rules and consequences.  The guidelines for all of these vague areas have taken shape over years of trial and error.

I rarely give parenting advice, but if I had to come up with the basics I look for as I launch my young adults into a world all their own, they would go something like this.

A young man or a young woman should know how to…

Change a tire, make eye contact, sit up straight, drink and eat in moderation, build a fire, moisturize, clean a toilet, write a check, pack all necessities into a backpack, drive a stick shift, order in a restaurant, be a courteous airplane/train/bus/subway/taxi passenger, tip well, sweat, get your hands dirty, reconcile a checking account, iron, tell the difference between cheap and a bargain, roll coins, present a solid handshake, make an omelet or a grilled cheese, take care of your skin, walk away when necessary, do dishes by hand, do without, screw up and recover, read even if you don’t like it, travel, listen, ask questions, be alone, breathe, sew a button, pay your bills on time when you have money and be creative when you don’t.

I would also add these reminders to the basic list.  Know when to say “no”, shoot for somewhere between bitch and doormat, let yourself be loved and give love in return, be honest, say you’re sorry, drink lots of water, throw your trash away, get outside, give to those that need a break, keep your car and your teeth clean, remember art and music are important, and finally laugh whenever possible.

Raising children, like my wardrobe, can be confusing and a big mess.  Preparing anyone for life when I haven’t even figured it out myself has always seemed daunting to me.

Every parent probably has his/her own list of “basics” and then we just drink green tea, or something stronger, and hope for the best.

My thoughts from the laundry room.  Shut the Lights Off, Do You Pay the Bills?

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