By: Shannon Ralph
I am the proud parent of a lovely—though occasionally smelly—young man. At 12 years old, my son is on the cusp of puberty. And we all know where puberty leads—yep, manhood. Ahhh…manhood. That oft-revered state of autonomy and self-reliance that all boys dream of achieving. The point in time when a boy leaves his parents’ home and begins to lead a successful, productive life of his own making. Maybe he gets married. Maybe he has kids. Maybe he makes his first million by the time he’s 25. Regardless of the path he chooses, a man makes his own way in the world.
I adore my son. I truly do. I have to admit, however, to occasionally coddling the kid (because of said adoration), which I realize is a great disservice to his future girlfriend/wife/children. As such, I have made a list of the things I intend to teach my son how to do before I inflict him on an unsuspecting world.
They are, in no particular order:
- Wash a load of his own dirty clothes. He should never subject another human being (at least not one with whom he hopes to maintain any sort of companionable relationship) to the unrelenting stench of his dirty socks.
- Cook something that requires at least 5 ingredients and no microwave. This excludes anything involving ramen, hot dogs, frozen waffles, or dry toast.
- Iron a dress shirt. Because, come on, grunge went out with the 1990s.
- Change a tire. Because I can do it. What grown man wants to be shown up by his mommy?
- Properly load a dishwasher. My wife has no clue how to properly load a dishwasher, and I firmly believe this is one of the primary contributors to my drinking problem.
- Use a dictionary and a thesaurus. Big words are sexy.
- Tell a clean (and funny!) joke. Every man needs a joke that he can tell in front of his friends AND his grandmother.
- Sew a button on a shirt. Because “wife” does not = “seamstress.”
- Read a bus schedule. Because no one is buying him a car when he turns 16.
- Clean a toilet. Let’s be honest—chances are pretty good he made whatever godforsaken mess is in, on, or beneath the toilet.
- Mow and trim the yard. Because his mother hates to mow, and we’ve got a good 6-7 years left before he leaves for college.
- Shovel a sidewalk. Because his mother also hates to shovel.
- Properly format a resume. Because food costs money.
- Change a diaper. He may be a dad one day, and I hope he will want to be 100% involved in every aspect of his child’s life. Plus, guys who refuse to change diapers are assholes.
- Tie a bow tie. Nothing looks snazzier than a man in a bow tie.
- Drive a stick shift. Because sticks are simply more fun.
- Buy a used car. Also known as “don’t be a sucker, dude.”
- Make a grocery list…and stick to it. Because Target is a den of vipers.
- Brew a good cup of coffee. Because sleep is overrated.
- Read a map. Because he inherited my wife’s sense of direction.
- Use jumper cables. Preferably without setting himself on fire.
- Properly shuffle a deck of cards. Just because it looks cool.
- Make a restaurant reservation. Because McDonalds is unlikely to score him a 2nd date.
- Cook eggs four different ways. One day he’ll ask a girl to stay the night. She’ll be hungry in the morning.
- Open a bottle of wine. Bonus points for champagne.
- Know poker hand rankings by heart. He will be ridiculed to no end in my family if he does not know how to play poker.
- Make pancakes from scratch. That girl he asked to stay the night might not like eggs.
- Type with more than two fingers. Because resumes are not submitted via text message.
- Assemble a piece of IKEA furniture (with only mild to moderate cursing). I have yet to master this skill. I hope the next generation surpasses my (gross lack of) ability.
- Use a shoe shine kit. Ooooohhh…shiny.
- Make (and follow) a budget. Because, unless his mommas win the lottery (the odds are considerably stacked against us since we do not play the lottery), he does not have a trust fund.
- Set the table for a family dinner. Because his mommas WILL be coming over for dinner!
- Pack a suitcase. And see the world in style!
- Make a bed with hotel corners. There is nothing in the world more innately satisfying than climbing into a perfectly made bed at the end of a long day.
- Unclog a drain. He inherited his unnaturally thick hair from his mom. His children will likely inherit it from him. Draino™ may prove to be a fruitful stock investment in coming years.
- Calculate a 20% tip. Math is important. And tipping well is more important.
- Care for a sick friend/girlfriend/spouse/child. Men can be caretakers, too.
- Start a fire. Preferably not in his kitchen.
- Dance at a wedding. No guy wants to be the loser sitting alone at the table nursing his fifth amaretto sour.
- Skip a stone. Well, obviously.
- Plant a garden. Gardening is peaceful, and I suspect he’ll need a little peace in his life.
- Fill up ice cube trays. This simple skill alone will save him hours upon hours of full-body-contact mixed-martial-arts-style combat with his eventual spouse.
- Take away a friend’s keys when necessary. Because saving a life (perhaps multiple lives) is the right thing to do.
- No condom=no sex. I am entirely too young and nubile to be a grandmother.
Photo Credit: Tony Alter