“Adulting Classes” – Really?

Well, what a shocker; the new thing these days is “adulting classes.” Look, I understand that the world is changing, and that schooling and parenting are far different than what I grew up with. Looking back on my own growing up, it was pretty cut and dried:

  1. Your parents were the bosses and you obeyed. Period.
  2. Your allowance was earned; the lesson was that you worked for what you wanted by doing chores.
  3. In school, there was Home Economics for the girls, and shop for the boys. As girls, we learned how to make simple dinners, make homemade jam, how to stick to a budget, how to sew and basically how to run a household. In shop, boys learned to make tables and stools and lots of other practical things. They also learned how to properly use tools and machinery.
  4. Family business was just that; you didn’t tell anyone how much money your dad made or whether or not your mother was beautiful.
  5. If we did something wrong in school and got punished for it, you could bet your life that your parents found out about it, and you got punished again.
  6. You were never to leave the house without telling your parents.
  7. If you had a pet that you had begged for, it was your responsibility to care for it.
  8. If you yearned for a toy or something you really wanted, you worked for it. When you had the money you needed to get it, you treasured it and took good care of it. You experienced what it was like to buy what you wanted with the money that you yourself had earned.
  9. You learned (often the hard way) how to get along with others, and how not be a show-off or a liar. Again, we learned this from our parents.

Of course, there was more, but these are the “regular” things we of the ’50s generation grew up with. When we were old enough to work (to have our own money), we were taught at home first. We learned how to make change, how to be polite to a customer, and most of all, how to do what your boss told you to do.

Now, I never had children, so I probably should shut up about this right now, but here’s the thing: we of our generation were taught what we needed to know mainly from our parents. By the time I went to college, I had learned how to work with people, how to deal with roomates (as I was an only child it was sort of a shock to have a roomate at college, but you adapt) and how get the most out of my classes, and so much more.

It absolutely boggles my mind that parents (for the most part) are just not teaching their children how to work and behave in the world. I nearly fell off my chair one day when I read that a twenty-one year old woman had been fired from her job because she just wasn’t working. Get this: the twenty-one year old had her parents call her boss to get her job back. Color me gobstruck. I wonder how well that went over with the boss…

From Parade:

What Are Adulting Classes?

You may snicker at millennials’ need for such classes, but it’s not really their fault they don’t have the practical life knowledge older generations had at their age. Although their parents and teachers pushed them toward academic achievement—millennials are the highest-educated generation—they too often neglected to teach the youngsters common sense skills needed to live in the real world.

“With kids being busier and having activities, sports and extracurriculars, there’s not as much time sitting around the dinner table and passing down all of that information,” Flehinger says. “And then there’s no more home ec and shop in schools; before, even when [the skills] weren’t being passed down at least school was picking up that slack, and now it’s not.”

Millennials are also saddled with a staggering amount of student debt, which is affecting their ability to financially establish themselves on their own. “This generation is going to be inheriting a lot of economical problems, and they’re also going to be contributing to a lot of economical problems because of their amount of debt,” Flehinger, who at 44 years old is a Gen Xer, says. Add a lack of being able to budget effectively, and their debt becomes a hole nearly impossible to climb out of. “If [parents and teachers] had taught them budgeting, look where they would be now,” Flehinger says.”

The Hairy Truth

When I was in grade school, I was jealous about hair, especially my best friend’s. She could pull it back into a gorgeous pony tail; how I longed to have hair like that! Mine was short and thick, and I always wore bangs. When I was younger my mother let my hair grow, but after a few weeks of her washing and drying it, she went right back to clipping it short. It was a “wash and wear” hair-do, but it worked.

Years later, I decided to let my hair grow. It was a genuine pain; not only did I have to take the time to dry it, but I had to style it as well. I suffered until my hair was long enough to put into a pony tail (I had never gotten over the yearning for a pony tail!), it was ridiculous. Putting it into a pony tail made it look like I was wearing a very thick whisk broom on the back of my head.

The next day I went to my hair dresser and said, “cut it off!” When she got done laughing she said, “I told you so!” I learned from my mother that all of the females in our family had the same thick hair. Now while that can be a blessing, it is also a curse. Just imagine all those poor women from way back when; they never cut their hair, they just put it up or braided it. When they shampooed their hair, they just sat in the sun to dry it. Just imagine what life was like back then; long heavy hair, loads of clothing, not to mention all the does and don’t of that time.

When I was on my own and working, there was a lovely woman I worked with who had beautiful long black hair down to her shoulders. I complimented her on it, and told her my own long hair story.

She laughed with me, and told me that she used to have hair down to her waist. Her husband just loved it, and asked her to please not cut it—ever. Well, that worked for a few years until she got into a car accident and broke her arm. While she was healing, her husband had to wash and dry her hair for her.

After a few weeks of this, he told her that if she wanted to cut her hair that was just fine with him; he had had enough. They had a good laugh over that, and she got a beautiful pageboy style after that.

And that is the hairy truth.



Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

If the title triggers something in your mind, you’re right: this phrase is from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. While the whole show is hilarious, there is that little phrase, “always look on the bright side of life” that sticks in your head. I’ll admit that in some areas of my life I have been a “doomer and gloomer,” and while it’s sort of satisfying, it doesn’t help at all.

So quite a while back, I decided to actually look on the bright side of life. It isn’t always easy, but surprisingly, it really does help. Example: this year I will be 69 years old; good grief! But on the bright side, all the dumb mistakes I made, all the crappy jobs I had, and the downright awful men in my life; that’s all over! At my age, I can laugh about it all; age really puts a new perspective on life.

This is not a bad thing being this age; not at all. We have lived through sorrow and grief; we’ve won, we’ve lost, and we have made mistakes and learned lessons the hard way. We have laughed and cried, and we have come to a place where we can forgive ourselves. We have learned on the way that we are imperfect beings, but aren’t we all?

So, looking on my own bright side of life, here are my truths:

  • I don’t have to go to work any more.
  • I don’t have to pretend that I am more than I am; who I am is enough.
  • I don’t need to impress anyone.
  • I can wear all the jewelry I want; I really don’t care what others think anymore.
  • I am finally in my own skin and I’m happy with it.
  • I don’t have to answer any questions I don’t like.
  • I don’t have to be right about anything.
  • I can eat a cookie at midnight and not feel guilty.
  • I don’t need to explain myself to anyone.
  • I can embrace my age and be happy with it.
  • I don’t have to be exactly like my mother.
  • I can finally forgive myself and others.

So there we have it; we actually DO have control in our lives; it’s all how we look at it. I’m going to just keep on looking on the bright side of life.


What We Keep

Anyone who has had to clean out a house faces this same situation: what do you keep and what do you let go? We have a storage unit in Wolfeboro, NH that harbors some of the stuff from my parents’ house. Slowly but surely we have been winnowing away what to keep and what to put in auction.

It’s sadly funny when you are in the position of going through your parents’ things; things that you have lived with as a child. Take for example my mother’s love of brass things, especially lamps. I’m not a fan of brass myself, so I am always happy when we can put them in auction.

When Mom was dying of metastatic breast cancer, one of the first things she did was to invite her friends over. She and I put out all of her clothing and jewelry in the living room, and friends were encouraged to pick out what they wanted to remember her by. It was one of those times where you laughed and cried, and then laughed some more. It made her happy to gift the people she loved with her things. This also made me happy as well.

By that time I had already picked out the things that I wanted to keep. That was a day of laughing and crying and laughing some more. And it’s funny how time goes by; after the death of my mother I felt off-course for a while. I grieved her and yet I laughed when I thought about the amazing woman she was and how many lives she touched. She really put the “B” in “ballsy” too; she was a true force of nature.

The same sort of thing will inevitably happen to the Crankee Yankee and I. It will be fun for me to let our grandgirls go through my jewelry and clothes; when that day comes, I will send a lot of laughter to my mother. It reminds me of what she always told me: “things don’t really matter; people do.”


Sooner or Later, You’ll Be the Waiter

When I lived in Austin, Texas, I enjoyed many great singing groups. The one I remember the most was one guy who sang his own songs, one of which was called “Sooner or Later.”

The song was about a young man and a girl who were on their first date. The young man brought her flowers and took her to a wonderful restaurant where they sat comfortably out on the patio under the stars. The wine was delicious and their food was divine. The young man did all he could to be charming and generous, and he asked her about herself instead of talking about himself.

Everything was going beautifully until the waiter came around and told them that he was terribly sorry, but the desserts they had ordered had run out. He told them about the other desserts they could have, and said that the manager wouldn’t charge them for them. The girl smiled and said that it wasn’t a problem.

But then there WAS a problem; the young man shouted at the waiter and told him he was stupid and lazy, and blamed him for not watching out for the desserts he ordered. The waiter apologized and again said that they could have any other desserts for free. But the young man wouldn’t accept that and kept yelling at him.

Now, at this point in the singer’s song, he stopped playing his guitar and said this: “ladies, if a fellow takes you out to dinner and is charming and thoughtful and kind, but he is rude to the waiter, remember this: no matter how charming and thoughtful and kind he is on your first date, sooner or later, YOU”LL be the waiter.”

We all laughed, but that song stuck with me for years. Of course a couple on their first date are usually thoughtful and kind and interesting; they want to make a good impression. Hopefully have more dates. But this song is the sad truth: if someone treats other people badly, sooner or later, you’ll be the waiter. Watch for the clues.


Does This Bug You, Too?

So—does any of the following bug you? Here is my personal “bug” list:

  • Drivers who never use their directionals or stop for a STOP sign.
  • Smokers who think it’s just fine to flick their cigarette butts out of their vehicle’s window. What, that fancy-schmancy car you are driving doesn’t come with an ashtray?
  • People who say that they are “fusstrated” (it’s “FRUSTRATED,” people).
  • Scam calls saying that you are going to jail because of Social Security fraud (really?!)
  • People who yap on their phones while driving; here in NH there’s a hefty fine for that. And you don’t get a break because you didn’t know that; ignorance of the law doesn’t cut it.
  • There is no such thing as a “Reelator.” It is “Realtor,” pronounced “reel-tore.”
  • Why is it when you are enjoying a program and can’t wait to see what will happen next, your significant other decides to change the channel to watch (insert irritating programming here; sports, news, etc.) something. You can say “hey! I was watching that!” and he’ll say, “oh sorry, I just want to see what the weather is going to be tomorrow/who won the last game/how are the debates going, etc., etc. And you’ve lost the show you were looking at.
  • Why is it when you finally have the time to sit down and read or watch TV, your pet (insert cat, dog, wildebeast, camel, etc.) has taken over your chair, AND is sleeping and snoring in it.
  • You need to pick up something at the store, get in your car and see that you have maybe a tablespoon of gas left. (Usually your significant other didn’t fill the tank; but to be fair it’s usually me)
  • You are enjoying a lunch out by yourself and your server calls you “honey” or “sweetheart” or “darling.” I realize that they are just being friendly, but I have to grin and bear it so that I don’t lash out with what I’d like to say: “oh, sweetie; you just wait.” Trust me, their time will come (insert cackling laughter here)!

Of course there are much more, but you get the general idea. After a while, you just grin and bear it. I am always so tempted to go all British some of those who bug me and say, “thanks, dear—now bugger off!” But I smile and grit my teeth, trying to hold back what I would love to say: “sweetie, you just wait!”