The countdown for college is in full swing. You cannot get a group of us Moms together these days without the talk inevitably turning to all things college.
Sure, ACT scores, scholarships and money dominate the conversations. And we worry about our babies' chances of survival out there in the big, mean world without their Mamma around to tell them how to separate the whites from the darks when they do laundry, or who's going to push them out of bed for their early morning classes.
The clock is ticking on just how much advice we can cram into this last year. Those last, little things we've been meaning to teach them haunt us and keep us awake at night. Thoughts like "never leave your drink unattended," or "don't forget to check the oil" float around my head like mosquitos that want to suck the life clean out of me.
But it strikes me there are other things they need to know before they leave home.
Like how to play poker.
I had two big brothers growing up, and have known how to play poker for as long as I can remember. I'm sure they taught me, but it's possible that when you're from West Texas you are just born with it, like a gift. The thought of a child of mine being one of those girls who says "I don't know how to play but I'll play anyway," is frankly mortifying. When you're at a table playing poker, and you hear something like that, all eyes meet and you can almost feel the mutual smirk of the seasoned players.
No daughter of mine will be a chump like that.
Chess is another game that earns you some respect (but only if you play it well). I made efforts when my girls were small to teach them, with limited success. It is on the list and they should expect to spend some time at the table learning at least the basics. I don't want my kids not knowing the difference between the castle guy and the pointy piece.
It's not all about the games. Every American needs to know how to make a decent pot of spaghetti sauce. My daughter will not leave home without having mastered that simple task. And, on the subject of food, she also needs to know how to grill a burger, and how to barbecue chicken. That lesson begins with how to work the gas grill.
Yes, charcoal is beyond me.
Little things like changing the bag on the vacuum cleaner, cleaning the refrigerator and how to pot a plant come to mind. Turning on utilities, problem-solving bureaucratic confusion, starting a fire in the fireplace without burning the house down and changing the air filters in the house are deep, dark mysteries they have yet to attempt to solve.
Incidentally, I changed my first air filter exactly one year ago.
The truth is that they have no clue exactly how clueless they really are. But on the bright side, a big part of the fun of going out on your own is figuring out things along the way. Mamma can't carry 'em forever. Even if I wanted to. Which I'm pretty sure I do not.
Still, look for this family to start a new tradition very soon.
Spaghetti and Poker Night. And my money is on me.