Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Independent living

Honey told me last night that several people had complimented our children lately.  "They are so independent", he was told.  I was happy to hear this.  It is not always easy to see the big picture when you are dealing with the day to day raising of the children.  I am very proud of this compliment.  I tell the children that my job is to make them capable of handling their own lives by the time they are 18 (or leave home).  I do not expect perfection, but they should be able to make a decent meal for themselves every day for a week, drive a car safely, choose right and wrong, know how to find a plumber or a how to book on plumbing, among other things like balancing a checkbook, doing their laundry and doing their taxes.  My wish is that they will be useful citizens of this country, compassionate members of their community and loving people.  This can be achieved if they are taught to be independent.
   My mother taught me how to be independent and it is probably the best thing that I could teach my children.  They need to learn that Mommy and Daddy will not always be there to help them.  My mother never did my taxes for me.  When I was 16 and had a job, she got me the 1040 EZ form and said, "Get to work."  My job, my money earned, and now it was my responsibility.  So I sat down and figured it out. Several years later, I worked for a tax accountant during tax season and I was amazed at the number of people who PAID FOR their child's taxes to be done by an accountant.  What lesson was this teaching the child?  Not to mention the cost.  Not many teenagers need more than a 1040 EZ form, so why pay $75+ for a form the child could fill out for free in 1 hour?
  Another more memorable way that my mother taught me a life lesson, happened when I went on spring break my senior year of high school.  My friends, sister and I went to New Orleans.  We were going to visit with my older cousin and stay with him for two days.  My mother gave me a turkey to cook for him.  Yes, a WHOLE Turkey!  I looked at my mother like she had lost her mind, but took it with me anyway.  I had never cooked a whole turkey before.  My cousin said, "Uh, most mom's would have given you a package of turkey lunch meat or $20."  He was right, but what lesson would I have learned?  She taught me to bring something with me when I am a guest.  She also taught me how simple it is to cook a turkey.  So I successfully cooked that turkey for my cousin and have never had a fear of cooking one.  It is also a great story about how crazy my mother is.  I do love her very much, but seriously a turkey?!

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