Greetings, Readers ~
Having recently rented an apartment to accommodate the return of my 18-year old daughter who is home on summer break from college, we are in a process of change right now. She’s been living in a dorm room on her university campus all year. She grew up quite a bit during the time she was away. There is a new wisdom about her, even at her still-young age. She knows a lot more about college-type subjects (like Math and Psychology). Our conversations are more mature than they were last year. Between college and my teaching throughout her childhood, I thought she had developed many of the major skills that she needs for life in general.
A few nights ago, she was warming up some left over Mexican food from a restaurant. It was encased in tin foil, so she decided to pop it in the microwave and heat it up. I was gone with some friends that night. Otherwise, I would have run into the kitchen yelling, “Nooooooooo!” I discovered the mishap while heating my coffee the next morning.
To get ahead on her degree, she signed up for 17 credits at a local college over her summer break. I entered her room and watched her studying for a few moments. She finally noticed me there. Brushing her long red hair from her face, she gave me a nod that I recognized as, “What’s up?”
“W-h-a-t happened to the microwave?” I was calm, but curious how a brand new microwave could suffer such a scar in the one night I had been gone. School and medical bills were the financial priority, and that would be the case for a while. There was no room for appliance failures in our budget.
She was hesitant to tell me what she had done. After her explanation of the 3-seconds-and-then-it-caught-on-fire, she gave me a worried look and asked, “I ate the food anyway. Is that going to hurt me?”
It was then I realized that my offspring, though I had struggled through her childhood to teach her everything I knew about the general topics, had absolutely no clue that metal and microwaves do not mix. I decided that life skills should be a requirement in college, just in case us parents miss something during their formative years. I had a checklist during her youth. I thought I had covered all things “need-to-know”, but one takes for granted the obvious topics, such as tin foil and microwaves.
“It will be okay,” I said as I explained to her that we do not use anything that contains aluminum or metal or silverware in a microwave.
I exited her room and hastily went over my “teach her these things” childhood checklist in my mind.
* Be kind to others – check.
* Stay in school – check.
* Develop your talents – check.
* Don’t leave the toaster plugged in – check.
* Eat healthy foods – check.
Dress appropriately; choose good friends; be leery of men who only want to use you – check, check, check.
Then I realized I had not taught her anything about the refrigerator. Is there something to teach kids about the refrigerator? I panicked. What about tin foil – can that damage a refrigerator? What about the washer and dryer? What if she plugs too many things into one outlet? My heart was racing. I became overwhelmed at the thought of all the many things I may have missed over the years.
Settling myself down, I took a deep breath and had an epiphany. I have done the best I could do over many years of child rearing, most of those years were with no father involved monetarily or otherwise. There was a tin foil incident as it relates to the microwave, and that is a pretty benign lesson to learn going into adulthood. I had done okay with her, and she is performing pretty well.
The only thing that may not have survived the misstep of my checklist is the microwave. Though it may cost me a bit to replace, it can be replaced. The lesson this taught her will stay with her through a lifetime.
Tin foil and microwaves will be a reminder to me that in the end, I have done alright, especially considering the many challenges we have faced together over her youth. We have arrived at a pretty good place, she and I. Though, it may be a while before we can heat up food without involving the stove.