Joco Diversions

Five pearls of wisdom for the high school graduate

Graduates need only take five simple bits of advice.
Graduates need only take five simple bits of advice. AP

A friend recently asked me what advice I was giving my daughter since she’s about to graduate high school. I laughed and said I don’t think she’s in the advice-taking mode right now. She just turned 18 and is battling the dreaded “know it all” disorder. Basically, there’s no one dumber than the parent of an 18-year-old in the four months before they leave for college. My parenting style is now the terminal eye roll.

I experienced this same thing with my son before he departed for his freshman year, and I call this period the “summer of hubris.” It’s the sweet spot when your kids are still being coddled by your tender loving care and yet think that because they’re on the brink of leaving the nest, they’re geniuses about how the world works. (Never mind that they still lose their phone at least once a day. Sigh.)

This advice thing, though, did get me thinking about imparting some real-world wisdom. The kind that you won’t find in any book because it’s not that magical or even uplifting. It’s just humdrum common sense that every grownup should embrace. So, here’s five things that make my short list of “Hey, you’re legally an adult now so don’t be an idiot.”

▪ While waiting in line for 15 minutes to order food, do be prepared to place your order when you get to the front and not act like you’ve never been to Panera (or a drive thru) before. Also, commit this to memory: a cup of soup is about half the size of a bowl.

▪ Never ask a woman when her baby is due. I don’t care if it looks like she has a trio of beach balls stuffed under her shirt. Under no circumstances should you assume any woman is pregnant unless she readily volunteers the information. (Don’t ask me how I know, but I know. Like, I really know.)

▪ Be spatially aware. This seems be growing affliction where people assume that they are the single carbon life form inhabiting the planet and therefore have no compunction about physical space. Are the rest of us ghosts, phantom apparitions that you can walk through with no consequences? Short answer: No. Also, beware points of egress. A door or any entryway is not a place to park yourself as you stare at your phone.

▪ If you’re returning what amounts to a wheelbarrow full of items you ordered online to a brick and mortar store on the weekend around Dec. 25, for the love of Saint Nick, have your receipt so the sales associate doesn’t have to physically enter, by hand, every piece of merchandise into the computer system thus ensuring your return takes about an hour (which in the Christmastime continuum feels like an entire day to the person behind you in line).

▪ You’re not that special. As in, you’re not so special that anyone, not even your mother, wants to hear you’re one-sided, long-winded cell phone conversation in a public space. This is why texting was invented: to keep people from having to hear you talk. Also, if any of my children ever has a conversation with their phone on speaker at an airport, grocery story or doctor’s office, that child will be disowned.

Of course, this list could go on and on, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned by parenting for 22 years, it’s that advice is best given in bite-sized chunks. Too much at one time tends to get ignored or forgotten and these five pearls of knowledge need to be committed to memory.

Reach Sherry Kuehl at, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and