Gomer Can't Iron
And 39 Other Things I Need to Teach Him Before He Goes to College
I woke up in a panic the other night at 3 am because I realized I’d never taught Gomer how to iron.
At that point, my brain went into overdrive. I was done sleeping. I tossed and turned all night yelling at myself (silently, of course, because everyone in the house was still sleeping).
“What the hell, Jen? He’s 17—almost 18—and he’s already begun his senior year! How could you forget to teach him how to iron? You’ve had almost 18 years to get this shit done. What are you doing? What lessons have you instilled in him? Besides sarcasm and how to style curly hair? What else doesn’t he know? Is he even ready to go off to college and into the world? Shit. I’m a bad mom.”
But misery loves company, so instead of fretting on my own, I decided to turn to my community and ask for help. It takes a village to raise a kid and luckily I have a fantastic village!
So, when I posted this confession on my Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok channels, I received so many terrific responses. And just for you, I compiled the most popular ones here so you don’t have to dig through all the comments. You’re welcome.
I’m happy to say that Gomer knew many of these things when I quizzed him. I hit him as soon as he walked in the door from school. He was utterly confused at first. “Yes, I know how to address an envelope. Yes, I can write a check. I can do laundry, I just don’t like to. Where is this coming from?”
“I was just wondering,” I said.
But then he went to get his hair cut and apparently, his stylist follows me (Hi!!) because the first thing he asked him was, “Did you learn how to iron yet?” When Gomer got home he was like, “What did you do, Mom?”
Gomer will absolutely need therapy. Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I was busted.
I’m just trying to make sure I’m raising a good human. And don’t get me started on how I’m doing my best not to let him get away with weaponized incompetence. I’m trying to shut that shit down because the world can’t handle another generation of men who try to pretend they don’t know how clean toilets.
So, I give to you my list for Gomer. It’s not exclusive to boys, though, and I think there’s a lot of good advice to all the baby birds leaving the nest soon.
Teach him how to do laundry - all of it. How to fold, how to iron, how much detergent to use, how to move items from the washer to the dryer in a timely manner, and most importantly: how often to wash everything. Especially sheets. Boys’ sheets are nasty AF.
Teach him to make 3-4 easy meals. I’m going to have to work on this one. He knows how to make scrambled eggs, ramen, and anything that can go in an air fryer. He won’t starve, but he also won’t impress anyone with his cooking skills.
Teach him how to clean. OK, so Gomer’s first job was at a movie theater, and on his first night on the job, he was tasked with cleaning the bathrooms. The boy had never cleaned a bathroom before, so I asked him how he did it. He said, “Oh, it’s easy. My boss showed me. You just mop everything down. The floors, toilets, all of it.” After I was done vomiting, we talked about ways to clean a bathroom at home. Cleaning is probably the biggest hurdle with him. He doesn’t mind living in filth, so I pity his roommate next year.
Teach him how to write a check, cash a check, sign a check, and use the ATM. I don’t even know how to use the ATM, but if he can operate an iPhone, surely he can figure it out.
Teach him how to pay his bills on time. With online banking, it’s a breeze! He just needs to remember to pay rent before his cable bill.
Teach him how to make a budget, save money, use credit, and invest wisely. I asked him yesterday where he plans to invest his money and prayed he didn’t say “Crypto and NFTs.”
Teach him how to sign up for utilities. The Hubs was 31 when we got married and he’d never lived on his own before that. When we moved into our first house I asked him to call and set up the utilities. I was stunned to realize he had no clue how to do that!
Teach him how to address an envelope, go to the post office, buy postage, and mail it. I’m always shipping out books, so both of my kids are well-versed in the ins and outs of the post office.
Teach him how to use a manual can opener. OK, so I bought one of these a few years ago when I read something about kids not knowing how to use one. I could barely remember how to do it! Gomer can’t even work the electric can opener. My guess is everything he buys will have a pop top and if it doesn’t and he gets hungry enough, he’ll figure it out.
Teach him how to make doctor’s appointments (as far as I know, you still have to call doctor’s offices on a telephone), get a prescription filled, take the prescription on time (he is literally walking around with an alarm clock in his pocket), fill out medical forms (which grandparent had hypertension and which grandparent had cancer).
This one is for the parents: get a medical power of attorney when the kid turns 18. My lawyer relatives did this, so it must be important!
Memorize your social security number. Surely, he knows that by now? At least the last 4 digits.
Always carry your health insurance card. But don’t lose it, because it’s a pain in the ass to replace.
Teach him what to do when he’s involved in a fender bender.
Teach him how to change a tire. I agree that everyone should know how to change a tire, but I really wouldn’t encourage him to do it. There are a lot of times I see people changing tires in very dangerous situations and I’d prefer he just call for help. A few months ago he got a flat tire and I showed him that our insurance actually covers roadside assistance.
Teach him how to read a map.
Teach him how to sew a button, hem pants, fix a rip. Hmm…when I lose a button I still go and see my mom because she never taught me properly. I better ask her to teach Gomer.
Teach him time management. Yeahhhh, this one might be tougher than the sewing one, because I’m still trying to figure out how to manage my time.
Teach him to stand up to toxic behavior. Hashtag not all men. Be the good guy, Gomer.
Teach him how to self-advocate. In all areas of his life. With his friends, with his professors, with his boss, with his doctor.
Teach him how to email professors politely and in a timely manner. Do not send a “Hey bro, when is that assignment due?” on the Sunday night before the assignment is due.
Teach him repeatedly about consent. No means no. And remind him, that this goes both ways. He can say no too.
Teach him to “wrap it up!” He should know the importance of condoms, how to use condoms, how to buy condoms, how to store them, and how to read the expiration date. You know what? Just send him off to school with a fuckton and then restock again at Thanksgiving.
Teach him how to drink responsibly. Remember, 12 oz of beer or 1 oz shot, it’s all the same amount of alcohol. Make good choices!
Teach him to never leave his drink unattended. I think this has been drilled into girls, but boys need to keep an eye on their drinks too. People suck.
Don’t drive impaired—in any way! (Yes, pot counts.)
Don’t get a car with an impaired driver.
Teach him how to use Uber. I know a parent who fills her college student’s Uber account whenever she’s asked. It’s worth the peace of mind.
Teach him to be cautious about loaning out money. People have the best intentions, but shit happens.
Teach him to memorize or write down important phone numbers. His phone might not always be available.
Teach him to never talk to the police without a lawyer. Even if he’s innocent.
Teach him how to register to vote.
Teach him how to vote absentee if he’s going to college out-of-state.
Get him a tool bag and teach him how to use all the tools in it. Power tools are fun!
Teach him how to turn off the water main and fix a breaker. This would have been helpful before I was 30 and flooded my entire house because I had no idea where the water main was located.
Teach him that the batteries in smoke detectors always die at 2 am. Keep batteries on hand and replace them. Smoke detectors save lives!
Teach him resiliency! He’s going to stumble but he won’t fall.
Teach him to trust his gut!
Teach that he can always come home.
Hmm…well, there you have it…39 lessons…39? I really wish there were 40. I like round numbers. I need one more lesson to teach my kids.
OOH, I know! 40. Never join a cult! I’ve been watching a lot of cult documentaries and between the GOP, MLMs, and wack-a-doo churches, everyone is after your mind and your wallet.
What did we miss?