What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

03 March 2018


Today's post is inspired by a Facebook post I saw this morning. Now, I normally try not to respond to those, because Facebook is the waste treatment plant of the internet. The post I saw, though, was interesting--it was about "adulting" classes (in quotes because while I think that word is fun as slang, I don't yet know how I feel about it being a real word) for young adults who lack life skills. Examples in the video included changing a flat tire, boiling an egg, folding a fitted sheet, and hulling a strawberry (I don't think I'll ever need that last one, but YMMV).

And while it's easy to say, "kids these days, amirite?" and roll right along, the truth is that skills have to be learned. We aren't born knowing anything. Every skill that I have, I've learned along the way, either from someone teaching me directly or by trial and error. There's nothing inherently irresponsible or shameful about not knowing a thing, and it's silly to expect that people will learn everything they need to know in the first 20 years, some of which years were spent pickup up random things and putting them in our mouths.

By the way, the person who I saw share this on Facebook was not being snide about adulting classes. It was when I made the mistake of clicking through and reading some comments that I decided to write an entire (long) post about it.

XKCD is a marvelous gem of a website. Source.
I remember my mother describing a personal finance class she took in high school, in which she learned to create a budget and balance a checkbook, a class that was long gone by the time I went to the same school 20 years later. There just wasn't room for it in the curriculum. And now, 20+ years later again, schools are even more pressed for what's included and what's not. New information comes at us constantly, testing is ever more intense for teachers and students, colleges have high demands for admission so students are swamped with extracurriculars--who has the time for a life skills class in school?

And the culture we live in bears some blame. I knew a dude a few years back who told me that he didn't teach his kids life skills because he wanted to keep them dependent on him, so they would come home for the weekends when they went to college. That was his plan for keeping his kids out of trouble, and I doubt that he was the only person who thought this was a good solution. I think of him often when I see the local college students struggling in Kroger, because I wonder if their parents ever let them into a supermarket before. My own father refused to teach me any mechanical things (including driving a stick shift, when I specifically asked him to teach me) on the grounds that "girls don't need to know that." Please, please, parents--do not do this. I get that your lives are already overflowing, the world puts way too many unrealistic demands on you, and that the years are short. But please try not to shortchange your kids this way.

There is a certain kind of human, and I'm related to an unfortunately high number of them, who believes that some things are just "common sense" and people "shouldn't need to be told that." However, that's just not true. I agree that there are many things that are caught rather than taught as one grows up--the aforementioned supermarket example springs to mind--but to presume that everyone caught the same information, or that we all have the same kind of upbringing, or that the human brain has a built-in program for knowing exactly what to do all the time, is just to invite frustration and misunderstanding into life.

By the way, as an adult I've had to learn how to drive a stick shift (at age 30) and how to change a flat tire on my bicycle (at age 34). A few months back I asked my brother to show me how to change a flat tire on a car (at age 39), although since I haven't had occasion to practice that one I'm sure I'll have to ask him again. (Mad props to my brother for being a lot more gracious and mature about that request than our father was. Maybe have a young widowed sister has helped him see the world in a different way than was possible for our father at this age.)
↑ This applies to more than just literature.

Repeat after me: There's nothing inherently irresponsible or shameful about not knowing a thing. It is okay to ask for help and seek out the skills that you're lacking. In fact, it shows incredible maturity to do that kind of self-assessment and look for self-improvement. What is shameful is mocking or belittling someone who's doing their best to fill those gaps. Everyone has something they don't know or haven't learned to do yet. Let's move forward together with that in mind, please.

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