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Column: Life lessons
Paula Joseph.jpg
Paula Joseph

Parenting is an incredible blessing; an intricate mix of peaks and valleys. Some seasons are trickier than others while some are smoother. The job description of mothers and fathers carries an exceptionally broad list of responsibilities.

Many of our duties are performed without any prior training only going on what we learned from our own parents. In no time at all, we become mess sergeants, life coaches, cheerleaders, tutors, counselors, taxi drivers, nurses and personal assistants. As parents, we navigate through the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and laugh at ourselves (or our children) when deemed necessary.

As my children press forward in to adulthood and I cautiously breathe a sigh of relief, a situation will present itself that undermines this very metamorphosis. I’ll give you an example. I received a text from one of my young adults stating that they felt so bad they think they are dying. I quickly responded with, “You are not dying. Take 2 Advil.” They replied with, “Mom, I don’t have any Advil. I will surely die. All I have is ibuprofen.” In that teachable moment, my (adult) child learned that Advil is in fact ibuprofen, and to never again begin a text to their mother with “Mom, I think I am dying.” Lesson learned. My takeaway was a bit different.

Similarly, and about a week later, another child asked me if they had put the return address in the correct corner of the envelope. “The correct corner? Where in the heck do they think the stamp goes?” I thought. From this moment on, my mind was full of, “What other crucial ‘life lessons’ had I failed to impart on my children?”

I would create a list in my phone that later was moved to my computer. And in discussions with others in my circle, I would then add to mine their lists of things children should know before leaving the nest. The following are some I rank pretty high on the list, and of course, some that have made the inventory from our “Advil-like” experiences:

How to administer basic first-aid skills including CPR, tying a tourniquet, and  location of first-aid kit. How to call 911 and use a fire extinguisher. How to balance a checkbook, fill out a check, and know the difference between a credit and debit card. How to change a tire and know the location of the spare. How to use your car’s owner’s manual located in the glove compartment. How to use jumper cables. How to check tire pressure, oil, and car fluids. How to follow a recipe. How to schedule a doctor’s appointment. How to use a landline phone. Know your family members’ phone numbers by heart. Read a book on wilderness survival and tying knots. Legal documents and checks are signed in cursive -- and with a pen not a pencil! How to create a budget. How to clean a toilet and use a plunger. How to wash different clothes at different temperatures and remove stains. How to use an iron. How to sew on a button and basic mending. Know where the breaker box is and how to determine a tripped breaker. How to turn off the water. Know your medications and medical history. How to write a thank you note -- not email or text! Know metal doesn’t ever go in the microwave. How to read expiration dates on products.

And when the tank is empty, your phone is dead, and all else seems to fail you, read the map in your glove compartment and come on home for some needed fuel.

(Paula Joseph is a Camden resident and a contributing columnist to the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.)