Lessons for the kids as they prepare to leave

In less than six months, I’ll be sending the 17-year-old Man/Boy out into the real world. His sister, just three years younger, will be leaving in what will seem like very short order.

I wonder how well prepared they will be.

Sure, they’re learning financial responsibility (“Just ask Mom, she’ll get it.”) and how to care for a household (“Mom! I need clean jeans!”), but just how ready will they really be?

With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a guide for some of the really, truly important things they will need to know when I’m not there.

1. Ice: Don’t go out and buy it unless you’re having a picnic or a lot of people over. For everyday use – and you may want to clip this recipe – just follow these easy-to-understand instructions: a) Empty ice trays into ice basin in freezer and let thaw; b) fill empty trays with cold water; c) carefully place filled trays into freezer without spilling into the newly-filled ice basin. Let sit for 3-5 hours. Repeat.

2. Toilet paper: While it does work just fine if you leave the new roll on the counter next to the sink. you run the risk of the toilet paper falling into the sink and getting wet, splashing or spitting on it when you’re brushing your teeth or dropping it onto the floor. Putting it on the spindle is easy: a) Grab the spindle and push one end to the other on the spring; b) Remove spindle and take old roll from it; c) Put new roll on spindle (I personally prefer that the toilet paper come over the top of the roll, but once you’re in your own place it’s really up to you); d) Replace spindle the same way you removed it.

3. Laundry. You know there are things you dry and things you hang up. Don’t wash them together. On second thought, go ahead. It will serve you right if you have to sort wet clothes and put some in the dryer and some in a basket to be hung up. That’s what you made me do since you learned how to turn on the washing machine.

4. Dishes. If you’re lucky enough to get a dishwasher, great! Just remember to rinse the dishes before putting them through the cycle. That is, unless you like tasting dried-on cheese that tastes like soap.

5. Garbage. When you’re making macaroni and cheese or warming up a can of Spaghetti-O’s, throw away or recycle the packaging. Don’t leave it on the counter – I won’t be there to clean it up.

6. Call your mother. She worries about you.

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