Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gracious Living Skills 101

I know, another post about manners? But seriously, I sometimes think that a considerable part of the reason that we, as a society, seem to be headed for a wild tumble off the ultimate cliff, is the decline of general good manners.

The loss of manners leads to loss of courtesy which leads directly to loss of respect. They’re like dominoes—they just fall, one after the other. Can we really afford to let this happen? It’s like when Lily Tomlin asked way back in the ‘70s, “Should we be giving up the ozone layer for Pam?” (The cooking spray, not Pamela Anderson.) I want to know, Should we really be giving up civilization for slam?

Anyhoo, this is why I’m so excited to present a pre-packaged course, written by my neighbor Betty Vaughan. It’s called Gracious Living Skills 101 (The Care and Feeding of Adult Children). There are no class fees, no books, no entry requirements like shots or prerequisites or long essays. The goal is to enable your adult children to come home, either for a visit or to live, while preserving everyone’s sanity. With the holidays coming up, you might find this veeeeeerrry useful. What follows is a somewhat abbreviated version of Betty’s course. Betty is not only very wise, she is very funny, and very much a product of the south. You will love her style!

Gracious Living Skills 101
AKA The Care and Feeding of Adult Children

The following FREE Seminar is offered to give our college age children a better understanding of what is expected from them this summer.

-We are old, and at least from your point of view, we have become more disgusting and set in our routines since you left the house for college.
-You, at least from our point of view, are not used to having any discernable rules or regulations governing your life.
-Please continue to treat us like we are your parents and not your roommates.
-The words “sir” and “ma’am” should still be somewhere in your vocabulary when addressing us.

-Cinderella, if you are going to be out after midnight, and I have not been informed of this IN WRITING, call me! A Note Board will be installed near the mail drop-off to more easily facilitate early, and I would like to stress the word EARLY, notification. You may also use the Note Board to post work schedules.
-The volume on late night music, TV, and sibling harassment must be low enough that it DOES NOT wake me up. Please use your critical thinking skills to determine if it is “late night.” If it is 3:00 PM and I am asleep, you may assume that it is indeed “late night” and QUIET HOURS have begun.

Sibling Harassment
-Please assume that it will escalate into something that is roughly the sound of a 747 trying to land in my living room.
-Remember, if you annoy your little brother and he wakes me up, I reserve the right to annoy you.

Note Board
-Please post your work schedule for me.
-If I have been given your work schedule, I should be able to determine if you are expected for church, dinner or Sunday lunch.
-If you are going to be traveling, it would be greatly appreciated if your schedule would include the part of the state, country, or world in which you are located on any particular day.

-We all agree that life is easier with electricity, gas, water, telephone, Internet, and cable service. In order to have those things, the bills must be paid.
-If you get the mail out of the mailbox, you are expected to put it in the basket on the blue trunk in the living area of the house.
-Remove only the stuff with your name on it.

-Think Green! My Green Money is a terrible thing to waste.
-Turn off the lights! Because some parts of my knee are not where they used to be, I find the lights left on in the basement to be especially annoying.
-If you are the last person to leave the house, please run through the house and turn off any lights, TVs, radios, etc. Please assume that anyone willing to break into our house can bring his own flashlight or find the light switch on his own.

Meal Time
-You are expected to eat dinner with us every evening, posted schedules permitting.
-You are also expected to eat Sunday lunch with us, posted schedules permitting. (See Note Board notice above)
-While partaking of the meal in our presence, you are expected to participate in witty, light-hearted, and appropriate conversation. (See Language section below)

-Your dad and I both attended college. We do understand that the rules of polite conversation can be a little more relaxed while you are dining with your friends. This is not the case at my home. Keep it clean.

Car Maintenance
-Your dad has graciously provided routine car maintenance in the past. If you would like this service to continue, you need to let him know in advance about things that are coming up, oil changes, etc. You also need to pay proper homage to him for agreeing to care for the car that you have come to think of as your vehicle.
-Remember: Jiffy Lube actually charges money for this service.
-You will be buying your own gasoline this summer. If dad somehow forgets this policy and gives you a free fill up, you WILL thank him profusely. If mom forgets this policy, she has lost the plot. Please get her immediate medical attention.

-No whining allowed.
-Be ready ON TIME OR have “work” on your schedule on the Note Board.
-If your “work” is of a fictitious nature, make certain that you are not still at home when we return from church.
-If we eat out after church and you are not at church with us, you have lost your FREE lunch.
-No! We will not pick something up for you.

Mouse Traps
-Think prevention! Please do not leave food out, especially in the basement.
-I think mice are gross, too. Dad can usually be talked into disposing of their little dead bodies. If Dad is not at home, I will grudgingly try to remove the dead varmints, depending on my mood and my blood alcohol content.

I am thrilled you are home; however, I am STILL NOT your maid.
We will all be working this summer and we will all have chores.
Minimum expectations noted below: (Please note, the word minimum means that I may assign other chores if the need arises.)

-You need to plan on being responsible for preparing, cooking and cleaning up one evening meal per week.
-PLAN AHEAD - If you give me enough notice and the meal is not too pricey, I will buy the ingredients. Otherwise, you need to plan to buy them on your own.
-If the meal that you choose is located at any fast food, carry out, or delivery place, you are responsible for ensuring that everyone’s needs are met with YOUR own money.
-Meals must appeal to a wide range of tastes and needs. (I still remember when you only ate chicken nuggets and hot dogs.)
-Hot dogs do not a meal make.

-If you wash my clothes, fold them NEATLY, and put them in my basket, I will return the favor for clothes gradually brought to the laundry room.
-If you put six weeks of clothes in the laundry room all at once, you need to plan on doing your own laundry, AND in less than a day.
-Clothes need to be put away in your room and your laundry basket needs to be returned to the laundry room. ASAP
-The lost sock container in the laundry room is for socks that have actually LOST a mate, hence the name. It is not for an entire load of socks that you do not want to take the time to match.
-If your clothes need special care, you are the perfect person for the job. Do not place them in the laundry room or I will treat them like they are mine.
-A Dry Cleaning business is located at the bottom of the hill. If YOU pay them a small fee, they will be delighted to care for any special needs items that you have. I, on the other hand, will not do it for any amount of money.
-If you notice that we are running low on Tide or Downy, write it on the shopping list.

-Clean at least once a week - I will assign days if you feel you need the structure.
-Vacuum floor weekly - If you break the vacuum, you will fix it. Otherwise, I will pick out a new vacuum and YOU will purchase it for me.
-Take out the trash
-Change the sheets on your bed at least every other week.

-Clean up after yourself!
This includes, but is not limited to:
-Wiping down the table and countertops,
-Putting dishes in the dishwasher, NOT IN, OR NEAR THE SINK, and
-Putting away the CLEAN dishes, if applicable, (This means actually bending over, removing the dishes from the dishwasher, and putting them on the proper shelf/drawer.)
-Actually placing trash in the garbage can.
-If you use the last of something, write it on the list.

Bathroom Assignments:
Firstborn: Downstairs Bathroom
Dreaded Middle Child: Blue Bathroom
Youngest: Green Bathroom
Mom: Master Bathroom
-Clean at least once a week – Again, I will happily assign days if you feel you need the structure.
This includes but is not limited to:
-Replacing the toilet paper ON the actual roller, (If you are assigned a bathroom, this is your job in that particular bathroom. Since everyone in the house uses TP, I really don’t care who used the last of the TP, so don’t waste my time by telling me. Seminars on how to change a roll of TP, which I have given in the past without charging a fee, are now only available for a small fee of $125.00 CASH ONLY - PAID IN ADVANCE.)
-Cleaning the inside and the outside of the toilet,
-Cleaning the shower,
-Cleaning the floor,
-Cleaning the sink,
-Cleaning the mirror,
-Emptying the trash,
-Dusting things that need dusting, and
-Vacuuming the floor - Again, if you break the vacuum, you will fix it. Otherwise, I will pick out a new vacuum and YOU will purchase it for me.

Living Areas
-Leave them in better shape than you find them.
-If you do not like to pick up after men and children, please do not date.

Care and feeding of Your Brother
-He may be mine, but guess what, so is the house you are living in. Everyone living at home helps out.
-Once a month, each child over the age of 16 will keep/feed/transport/entertain said brother so your dad and I can have an actual date with each other.
-You are not invited to go on those dates. We will be flirting with each other. We are out of practice with flirting and much more direct with each other these days. We are also slightly hard of hearing, therefore; frequently, we will flirt loud enough for the people at the next table to hear. I am 100% certain that you would be too embarrassed and nauseated to hold your meal down, so please don’t ask if you can tag along.
-Brother will continue take out the trash and feed the dog. He will also continue to clean his bedroom with help. In addition, he will also begin cleaning the Green Bathroom without help.

The above rules are only the tip of the iceberg. Please do not, through any words or actions on your part, force me to amend the existing rules or make new rules.

I really do love you all,

Isn’t that just the most inclusive, incisive and witty course you’ve ever taken? Now take out a number 2 pencil, we’re going to have a short quiz. No we’re not. But if this doesn’t help you when the college kids come home for Thanksgiving, your problem runs deeper than I thought… Maybe Betty will take you on for some private counseling!
Oh—and if YOU are the adult child going home for a visit—these are excellent rules to remember!


  1. *print off a copy of this entry and files it for future reference*

    Thank you!

  2. Um, you mean I'm still going to have to worry all that when my teenagers (who are currently driving my crazy) are adults too? Aye! Does it ever end?

  3. I like this.

    Although no one should EVER call me ma'am. No thank you.

  4. LOL That's a lot of the things I was doing when I'd stay with my aunt in the summers. I always had chores when I was there as long as I can remember. When I got older, I didn't have siblings to babysit, but I used to watch the neighbor kids there. Even now as an adult I pitch in while we're there visiting. I guess she did good with the hand she had in raising me. I'll have to let her know she passed this course with flying colors.

    As for me, I'm keeping this in my back pocket to pull out in about 10ish years for my own boys.

  5. This is awesome! I copied it so I can let my mom read it. She'll love it!

    I have linked this post, on my post "A Name that Stays".