Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Adulting 301

When quarantine began, I started kicking off each week of at-home learning with a checklist. Well, three checklists, actually: one for me, one for Will, and one for Hallie. The kids' checklists included the schoolwork they were required to complete and submit to their teachers, extra schoolwork I assigned (Khan Math and Typing Club lessons, for example), their PE responsibilities (at least 20 minutes of exercise in the mornings and sports-specific training - guided by their teachers and coaches - in the afternoons), and finally, a few extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activities varied dramatically and included everything from Will's online referee class and Hallie's online crafting class to baking birthday treats and delivering food to the food pantry. The list also included lessons in adulting.

More than two years ago I wrote my first post about adulting: Adulting 101. I had come across an article about an actual Adulting School at which experts teach budgeting, paying bills, meal planning, sewing, "making", and "fixing"...all the skills needed to survive and thrive as adults. The founders of the school reference changes in middle and high school curriculum, family dynamics, and the pace of society as contributors to the need for this special kind of education, and to be honest, I get it. Sadly, I regularly hear from Tom (a college professor) about, read stories about, and witness for myself circumstances in which young adults don't actually know how to behave and/or take care of themselves like adults. I certainly didn't have it all together when I moved away from home for college - or even when I started my first job after graduation - but thanks to my mom's hard work, I knew how to do my own laundry, sew on a button, cook a meal, and wield most basic tools.

In hopes Will and Hallie wouldn't end up having to attend classes at The Adulting School, I started working with them on some basic adulting skills, and by the end of first year they could cut soft fruits and vegetables with a knife and an apple with an apple corer, scramble an egg, set the table, load and unload the dishwasher (they both do this MUCH better than Tom), vacuum their rooms, dust the furniture, wipe down the bathroom, hammer nails, screw in screws, fold simple laundry, write thank you notes, and shake hands. That year they both also learned how to pull weeds, rake leaves, and change lightbulbs; Will learned to calculate a tip; and Hallie started her journey to becoming a baker.

During our second year of adulting we didn't make as much progress. It was a Catch 22: the older the kids get, the busier they come, which leaves us with less time available for learning the ways of the world (at least those outside of what they learn at school and through their extracurriculars). We continued to work on the skills they'd learned the previous year - using a knife, washing and drying dishes, setting the table, and using good table manners - and added talking on the phone, leaving voicemail messages, and basic banking.

And then came quarantine.

Suddenly we had SO much more time for adulting lessons. And we took advantage of that time by learning a few new skills, including how to:
  • Sort, wash, dry, and fold laundry.
  • Change the sheets.
  • Order food online.
  • Wrap a present.
  • Make coffee.
  • Write a "social letter" (rather than a thank you note).
  • Plan a meal, create a grocery list, and follow a recipe.
  • Perform CPR and the Heimlich Manuever on adults, children, and babies.
  • Perform basic first aid and use an automated external defibrillator.

It shouldn't have taken me this long, but I finally realized this summer that just because I've taught the kids something in the past doesn't mean they've "got it". Throughout the rest of the summer we'll be reviewing what we've already learned, and hopefully picking up a few additional skills, like how to:
  • Iron.
  • Sew on buttons and mend small tears in clothing.
  • Perform basic water safety maneuvers.   
  • Fill up the car with gas.

None of these skills fall into the category of rocket science, and my system of teaching Will and Hallie how to become functional adults is mediocre at best. But we're making progress, slowly but surely, and I can only hope that when we emerge from quarantine my kids will be slightly more prepared to take on the world.

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