The Pandora App on my iPhone played the funky sounds of Brian Culbertson’s cool jazz as we relaxed in the soothing jet massage of the backyard hot tub. It was a perfect Indian summer night with one exception: We forgot the drinks.
Everyone knows the importance of hydration when in a pool of 104 degree water, ahem, so like any responsible person of today’s technology would do – I used said iPhone to call into the house and asked my oldest son to bring us two bottles of an adult beverage.
As we watched the dusky sky, in anticipation of the sunset, I was stricken with a horrible thought: Did my son even know how to open a bottle?
I sense your “Oh, come on! Everyone knows how to open a bottle.”
Yes. If someone showed you how and with what tool.
Maybe it’s all the college talk. Maybe it’s knowing he will be out of the house in less than a year. Maybe it’s I’m worried I haven’t taught him enough in the time I’ve had him.
Mind you, this is a child of above-average intelligence who can discuss the pros and cons of whether Einstein’s Theory of Relativity may be proved false, but does not always have the best common sense – granted, some of it due to his Asperger’s Syndrome – most of it due to his simply being a teenager. Throw in the fact I couldn’t recall having ever asked him to do this task, and you might be able to see why I was apprehensive.
I said, “might.” Most of you may still be at “Oh, come on!”
I like to think I have equipped my sons with the basic tenets for independent living. Using the vast knowledge I have bestowed upon them, they will be able to leave for college and deal with all aspects of life that cross their paths. They can fold a hospital corner on a bed, separate towels from dirt encrusted baseball pants, clean a toilet bowl any dog would be proud to drink out of, boil a pot of pasta so they don’t starve. They know how to write thank you notes, how to properly answer the home phone – hint: it’s not “Dude, wassup?” – how to turn the oven on (again, the starving thing), how to grocery shop, and how to budget money (OK, still working on that one). But bottle opening? Not sure I covered the subject in Life 101.
His first use of bottles came with a plastic nipple and a hole. He cried. I stuck it in his mouth. We both won. There was the whole skipping of bottle phase with juice bags – push the straw in, out comes the liquid. Assuming you can get the straw in. That, he was a wiz at! Me? Not so much. When he was old enough to try soda, the cans had pull tabs. (Is it still called a “pull tab” since you really pull and “push” it in? Or am I dating myself?) His close relationship with bottle opening had consisted of twisting off the cap on his filtered water.
I whispered to my husband, “I don’t think he’s ever used a bottle opener.”
His reply? “So. He’ll figure it out.”
Hard to believe he wasn’t as freaked out as I was.
My husband is of the school that if you don’t know how to do something, you jump in and learn. Directions, schirmections!
My oldest son does not come from this school nor have any desire to attend. He wants to read the directions – twice – look up a YouTube video showing the steps of the “how-to,” analyze the information and, then, just maybe, try it for himself.
I watched through the window as he brought the bottles in the kitchen and took a long look at the electric can opener on the counter. He moved it back and forth a bit. (He certainly knew what it was for – quick food access – still the starving thing.) I saw him open a drawer, root around, lift out the bottle opener, then glance over his shoulder toward the backyard.
As our eyes met, I thought of a few things I took for granted he would know how to do before he left home: pull up to the pump on the gas tank side of his car, throw out socks when he could see his bare toes (and remember to buy more), tip the hair stylist and not only the waitperson at Chili’s, be gentle when telling someone he’s moving on from a friendship, advocate assertively for himself when necessary.
And the epiphany came.
I knew I could never teach him everything he needed to face all the challenges headed his way; only enough for him to be comfortable leaving me so he could learn the rest on his own.
Oh, and the opened Coronas were great, but the kid forgot the limes…guess I never taught him that custom; boy, what a blog post that would have made had he been familiar with it!
Question: Ever worried about not teaching your child something so basic as opening a bottle which led to you reflecting on all the life lessons you hadn’t taught yet or am I the only crazy mom?