The end of July marks two significant events in the life of our family—Jacob’s birthday and Brad’s and my wedding anniversary. Last year was our 20 year wedding anniversary and was also the day arrived at Stony Brook (see We Were Made for the Years). Celebrating a 21st wedding anniversary is a good thing, of course, but doesn’t have quite the same ring as saying you are celebrating your 20th anniversary.

We do have some plans, however. Later in the day we head to Brooklyn to the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse where we will eat like carnivores. It is a no-frills place—no tablecloths and a limited menu (I think a total of 8 main course items.) When I first called to make a reservation in early June, I naively assumed I could make a reservation for the next night. I was quickly told that the earliest we could get in was at least six weeks out.


The timing worked out in the end; tonight I will be sharing a Porterhouse the size of a large dinner plate with Brad and nary a vegetable on my plate!

Yesterday Jacob turned 16. I can still remember turning 16! These days I am keenly aware that each year moves him one step closer to college and leaving our home. While there are times when his moodiness and “keep to myself” attitude drive me crazy, I am certainly not ready for him to leave the nest. This got me thinking about the circumstances in which I would feel “ready” for him to leave home. And I couldn’t help but think about certain domestic skills he still needs to master before he flies the proverbial coop. Here are my top three.

1.  How to iron.

With three people in our house wearing shirts that require ironing, I am highly motivated to teach this important skill before school starts the end of August. This year I’ve declared to the family that each person is responsible for their own ironing. (I’ve done a good job of assembling a work wardrobe for myself that doesn’t require ironing.) I will even show Jacob how he can “cheat” during blazer season by only ironing the parts of his dress shirt that will show.

2.  How to cook a few basic items.

I have three relatively easy (and cheap) dishes that I want Jacob to master before he leaves home—a pasta meal, an egg dish (such as scrambled eggs or an omelet), and one soup since this is a favorite food of his. I’m ashamed to admit that I have taught Anna more of these skills so far rather than Jacob. I will breathe a bit easier knowing that Jacob will be able to feed himself and any hungry friends should the occasion arise.

3.  How to do laundry.

You would be surprised (or maybe not) at the number of boarders at Stony Brook who have NO IDEA how to do laundry. I hear stories from the dorm parents of girls washing one piece of clothing at a time. Some have no concept of how much soap to add, much to the dismay of facilities. Brad knew of a student whose dad showed up each weekend and took the boy’s laundry home and then returned it washed and folded. This will not be the case with my children. Jacob will understand the importance of separating your darks from your whites (he already does this some of the time for me), how much soap to add, and what should or shouldn’t go in the dryer.

The acquiring of domestic skills may not be on the same level as developing strong moral character, but as a mom I will feel like I have done my job for my children if they know how to iron, cook, and launder all by themselves.

2 thoughts

  1. As a mom, you seem to have your act together, much more than I ever did. Bob’s mom sounds like you. They had seven children and she was a school teacher. All five boys learned to do laundry and iron. Even today, Bob is a better at ironing than I am. Hoorah for moms teaching boys to take care of themselves. They make better husbands.


  2. 21 years! Wow! You seem to be too young to have been married 21 years! Really and truly.

    If you run into Bruce Lockerbie sometime, do give him and also Lory our love. And if you have not yet met them, do ring them up and tell them that I said you should meet. He would be appreciative of your taste in restaurants and menus. He has had at least 3 ops for clogged arteries!

    I am reminded of the fact that a few years back I took a test to suggest how long I was expected to live. As I remember, it was predicted that I would live to be 89. But if I were to change certain habits, I could live to 94. For example, if I stopped drinking coffee, I might live an extra three months. I decided that it was not worth the sacrifice!



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