Or: Liner notes to growing up
Or: Nest & Launch Finishing School?
One day two years ago, I suddenly realized that Lauren (who's our oldest) would really, truly be leaving home for university at the end of the summer. What had been purely hypothetical for so long was quickly shifting into the actual. Do you know what you do when you think you have just three months left to impart what little wisdom about the world you’ve acquired? You panic a little. You wonder if you’ve done/said/explained enough. And then you realize: no. No, I haven't told her everything yet.
I should add that now I know that there’s not just one launch day, one departure. Leaving for college is a huge milestone moment for everyone involved but there are still many more moments to teach and debrief and parent, especially during all the comings and goings of the revolving door of the college and young adult years. Now that we've been through that cycle several times with Lauren, my proverbial apron strings are getting all stretched out and frayed from all the tying and retying and adjusting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anyway, back on that day in 2011 I started writing down some of my observations about being a grown-up that I wanted my kids to know. I called it my liner notes because waaaay back in the day I pored over the liner notes of my cds, curious to find the story behind the music. What I hoped to do with my liner notes (and still do) was to set down the story behind the music of growing up and setting off on your own, to school my kids in the lyrics of life. (I also interchangeably called them launching notes.)
For starters, here are the first few I came up with:
- Thank you notes really are essential. Don’t cash the check, use the gift, or read the book until you’ve written a note, preferably a real envelope-and-paper, stamped, delivered note. It doesn’t have to be long. It can just say “thank you so much.” But thank you notes are non-negotiable: it lets the giver know you got it that you appreciate it, and it increases the chances that you’ll be invited back or given something again. Trust me on this one.
- Never get your hair cut in the midst of an emotional crisis or the day of a big event. Haircuts, like new hiking boots, need a significant waiting/breaking-in period. ‘Nuf said.
- Don’t expect mind reading. As much as it would be lovely for boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses (though I predict you’ll each have just one), friends, roommates, and work colleagues to have the capacity to read your mind, life is happier when you express your expectations and air your thoughts. Be clear, seek clarity.
- Always go to the funeral. Here’s why.
Now for a bit of audience participation: What should a launched young adult know? What bits of knowledge do you want to make sure your growing kids know as they launch into their late teens, 20s, and beyond?
I'd love to hear what's on your list. Email me your launching notes--they can be significant, everydayish, or just trivial bits of knowledge--and I’ll include them in future posts (with credit and links to you, of course). You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking the envelope icon under my name over there on the sidebar. >>>