What Skills Does Your College Student Need?

“How to do their own laundry!” calls out a woman, a mom, as she’s raising her hand, before she’s even called on.

The question is, “What skills does your college student need?”

The woman asking is from the Admissions Office at CSU (Colorado State  University). Or was it the Dean’s Office? She’s had several roles at CSU, including the two aforementioned ones, as well as a professor and also a mother of a senior in college and a senior in high school.

It’s Campus Visitation Day at CSU and this woman is addressing about a hundred of us in a breakout session that is just for parents.

“Okay, besides laundry, what else?”

“Time management!” yells a father in the group.

“Budgeting!”

“Asking for help when they need it.”

“Yes, self-advocacy,” clarifies the Admissions/Dean’s Office/past professor/mom.

“Safety,” I add to the list.

All of this in thirty seconds and I’m starting to have physiological reactions. You know, the type that would probably make me fail a polygraph test.

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All Dressed Up, Nowhere to Go

Me? Dress up for Halloween?

It takes a lot of creative energy, time, and money to put together a costume, and most of what was available for that for the last 10-15 years went into figuring out what my children were going to wear. So, yeah, I’m sort of in the habit to not dress up for Halloween.

Wait, wait; that’s not entirely true. Being a teacher and that I have students who start asking in September what I’m going to be, I do have a couple of easy costumes to choose from to wear on Halloween day. My favorite, of late, is what I dubbed an “ankle down” costume. It works for me because it requires no special make-up, no wig, and no special clothing. And, most important, it’s comfortable.

What is it, you ask? A pair of bumblebee slippers. When my students ask what I am, I answer with, “Two bees,” and their little faces morph from confusion to wonder to slight disappointment all within a matter of seconds.

Last year, about this time, I heard about the Zombie Prom happening at one of our trendy downtown theaters and I mentioned it to my daughter, thinking she and her friends might want to go. Much to my (initial) dismay, she suggested that I attend with them. I panicked. Wouldn’t that require hair, make-up, clothing? Interestingly, that stressed me out more than the thought of dancing and being stuck in a loud, crowded place with a bunch of young, wild, costumed strangers. She assured me that a zombie was, like, the easiest costume in the world.

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Random Kitchen Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon

Addy:  Mom, do we have any more laundry detergent?

Mom:  No, but it’s on the list.

Addy’s Friend:  Oh, that’s okay, I brought my own.

Addy:  Hey, you want to make brownies? We have a mix.

Friend:  Yah!

Addy:  K, let’s mix everything except the oil. Then, we can some batter before we bake them and it won’t be so gross.

Addy:  Mmmm, want some batter, Amy?

Amy:  Yah, I’ll take a bite.

Friend:  I’ll have some more.

Addy:  (slurping off the spoon) Mmm, I can’t stop eating this.

Addy:  Okay, let’s put the oil in now and bake these things.

Amy:  Do we have any cream of tartar?

Mom:  I think so.

Amy:  Can the neighbor borrow it? She’s making Chemical Apple Pie.

Mom:  She’s making what?

Amy:  It’s some kind of fake apple pie. It doesn’t have apples in it.

Mom:  Oh. Weird. Why?

Amy:  I don’t know. What is cream of tartar? Where is it?

Mom:  It’s in the spice cupboard, a little one, with a red lid. I don’t really know what it is, to be honest.

Addy:  You should let us try this with you, Mom. It’s so fun. You laugh really hard, in a weird rhythm.

Mom:  No, it’ll make me cry.

Addy:  It’s okay. We cried, too.

Mom:  No, really, you know me. I’ll, like, cry-cry if you make me laugh too hard.

Addy:  Come on , Mom! You gotta try stuff. Your life is just passing you by.

Mom:  Okay, but I’m scared.

Addy:  Amy, you do it to her. I’m going to videotape.

Mom:  No! I’m not doing it. We do not need a videotape of this.

Addy:  I’ll just videotape the sound then.

Mom:  No, I don’t trust you.

Addy:  Okay, fine. I’ll put my phone out here.

Amy:  K, mom, lay down. Cross your arms over your chest, like this. Right before I push on you, take a deep breath.

Addy, Amy, Friend:  (laughing) You have to laugh, Mom! Don’t hold your breath!

Amy:  K, here we go again.

Mom: Aaarrroooooooophhhhh!

Addy, Amy, Friend:  (laughing) What was that?

Mom:  (crying) Let me up! Let me up! Let me out of here!

Addy:  What, mom? You’re cooking dinner?

Mom:  Well, sort of. I need to use this Swiss chard that someone gave me. It’s bitter and needs to be cooked a little. So, I’m making a pasta dish with it. Want some?

Addy:  No, mom, you know I don’t eat pasta.

Addy:  Hey, T, do you want some real food? I’ll make you something.

Friend:  Yes, please.

Mom:  I wish you would have told me T was coming over and doing her laundry and staying a while. If I’d have known, I would have planned something good for dinner.

Addy:  Really? Well, I’ll just cook her something. What do we have?

Mom:  How about quesadillas? We have tortillas, cheese, black beans, salsa, plenty of veggies if you want to add some.

Addy:  Okay. Do we have the good tortillas?

Mom:  Yes. But wait. Not now. Wait until I’m done cooking.

Friend:  Oooo! What is that? It smells good.

Mom:  Well, I sautéed Swiss chard and onion and garlic and mixed it together with angel hair pasta. I also added a little avocado, lime, and some parmesan cheese. Want some?

Friend:  Yes! That looks so good.

Addy:  Okay, fine. I’ll try it, too.

Friend:  This is good! The avocado in there adds a lot.

Addy:  Do you want a quesadilla, too? Have you had these kind of tortillas? The raw ones?

Friend:  (looking at the tortilla package) Nope. Never.

Addy:  (eating a raw quesadilla) Here. Try one. They’re so good.

Friend:  (looking skeptical) What do they taste like?

Addy:  Nothing. Wait. Carbs. They taste like carbs.

Addy:  Do you want to make some music, T?

Friend:  No, but I’ll listen to you sing.

Addy:  Here, I’ll teach you the song I just learned this weekend.

Friend:  Wait! Let me make sure my emotions are in check before you start singing.

Addy:  (playing the guitar) The sky looks pissed, The wind talks back, My bones are shifting in my skin, And you my love are gone… (“The Chain” by Ingrid Michaelson).

Amy:  Uh! Are you crying, T?

Mom:  She should be! Addy, your voice is perfect for that song.

Addy:  Aw, thanks, Mom.  Come on, T, you should sing or play the piano.

Amy:  The neighbor’s bringing over a slice of the pie. Will you taste it with me?

Mom:  Let’s google it while we’re waiting. See what it’s about.

Mom:  Gross, it really is called Chemical Apple Pie. Who would call it that?  Oh, here’s an explanation:  This is a recipe for apple pie made without apples. It has all the characteristics of an apple pie with apples. If you didn’t know better, you’d think that there really were apples in it. This is an old chemistry lab experiment to teach the limits of human senses.  (John Pile on AllRecipes.com)

Amy: (pie in hand) It looks pretty good, Mom.

Mom:  Oh, I see they put ice cream with it. That should help.”

Amy:  Mmm, it’s good.

Mom:  Mmm, yes it is. It wouldn’t be as good without the ice cream.

Amy:  I actually like the pie part better.

Mom:  Okay, then give me another bite with a lot of ice cream.

Amy:  No, I want the rest. (Turns to run out of the room, with the pie, inadvertently leaves her phone there)

Mom: (spanking Amy as she runs while simultaneously snatching up the phone) Ha! You’ll have to trade me a bite for your phone.

Amy:  You’re such a brat! (Gives mom another bite)

Mom:  You leaving?

Friend:  Yes, thank you so much for having me over. I have to go though. I’m pooped.

Mom:  Do you have your laundry?

Friend:  Oh, my gosh! I almost forgot about that!

Addy:  Did we ever put it in the dryer?

Friend:  Yes. I did.

Addy:  That’s good. Since that’s the reason you had to do it here anyway—your dryer’s broken. Come on, let’s go get it.

Mom:  Bye, T.

Addy:  Mom, does this outfit look good for tomorrow?

Mom:  Yah, that’s cute. What do you have going on?

Addy:  You can’t just say it’s cute. It has to be really cute or not.

Mom:  Oh, well… It’s okay. Are you trying to impress someone?

Addy:  No, I’m just trying to outdo myself.

“Outdo myself.” There’s a phrase. Something to think about. In what aspects of my life do I try to outdo myself? How about you?

Keep Calm and Nap On

I come home to a quiet house. Too quiet. The dog’s asleep on my bed. As always. The girls must be out somewhere. Maybe they went shopping after school.

I go about my usual after-school activities—get a snack, finish reading the morning paper, and do a few household chores.

Still no girls. They’ve been out of school for nearly two hours. I text them both. No response from either. More

Terms of Endearment

HAPPY

16

That’s what my daughter has written, so far, on the small pan of Reese’s no-bake bars.

Not quite finished, she moves into position again, the tube of orange icing hovering, her hand beginning to squeeze.

“Wait, wait, wait!” I say.

She rolls her eyes up at me, her body still bent over her creation, gravity drawing a bit of icing into the tip of the tube.Happy 16

“You need to put the t right by the 16.” She’s not known for precise handwriting. But this is looking pretty good so far and I don’t want her to ruin it.

“What t?” she asks.

“The t you’re about to make. For16th.”

“Hush, mom, that’s not what I’m writing.”

Not what she’s writing? Well, what could she be writing? If she wasn’t putting 16th, there was only room for one more word with, at the most, four letters. If she tried to squeeze her friend’s name into the remaining area, it wasn’t going to be pretty.

I watch, intrigued.

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