In Due Course

Does anyone even remember the list of courses that were mandatory ones in their curriculum in high school? Were there any subjects that stand out in your mind as being crucial to your well-being as a functioning adult? Didn’t think so.

You learn life skills by living your life, not by signing up for a crash course in life skills 101. It’s one thing to make up a budget on paper based on a minimum wage job, a sad little apartment, public transportation and the rationing of milk and shampoo. It’s another thing entirely to actually live that life and wonder where your next meal is coming from and what you’re going to do when your shoes finally wear out. Lectures on money management and domestic skills and family planning can’t hurt, but they also can’t prepare a high school kid for all the eventualities of real life.

Some kids are already living that hand to mouth life. Others will never understand the concept of being without if they live for a million years. And the rest are somewhere in the middle where not everything is handed to them on a silver spoon, but where there are still some things that will never be theirs unless they learn to work really hard to get them.

What is sadly lacking is knowing the value of things, understanding sympathetically, becoming aware, and developing the power to bring about positive change.

How do you teach appreciation, empathy, compassion? Kindness and courtesy? Reverence and respect?

There’s no course in the world that could cover all that. These are things that must be taught by example, and learned by experience. We can’t stop the critical introspection, but maybe we could re-direct the results. Self acceptance is something a teenager fights for every day. If we can help with that first small step, the rest will fall into place. But it probably won’t happen in high school. More likely it will take a lifetime.

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Raiding Closets

Although Lady Gaga’s closet might be a lot of fun to raid, I don’t think I’d find anything in there that would fit me. Or that I would want to leave the house wearing unless I’m intent on getting myself arrested or committed.

Much safer and more sane to pick someone closer to my age, I suppose. I think Judi Dench is an amazingly beautiful woman, inside and out. She proves it’s not at all impossible to have wrinkles and grey hair and still manage to look like a million bucks. Helen Mirren is another lovely lady who always looks perfectly put together. I’d take advice, fashion and otherwise, from either one of them. But I’m also glad I really don’t have to worry much about how I look since there’s never a lot of people buzzing around me snapping my picture for some magazine or posting it on the internet. How stressful would that be? I just try not to embarrass my children. Not saying I always get it right, but I do make a bit of an effort, if only so I won’t stand out like a crazy person in family pictures.

Personally, style-wise, I’m in a rather deep ‘black with silver accessories’ rut and can’t get out. Mostly because I don’t really want to, except for the occasional deep purple or dark blue which is comfortably close to black and therefore grudgingly acceptable. It’s all about comfort really. I know crocs exude their own special fashion hell, but they’re the most comfortable thing I’ve ever put on my feet and that’s why I wear them.

Black pants, black shapeless long or short-sleeved soft-knit shirt, silver earrings, purple watch. That basically describes my entire wardrobe. I might raid a celebrity closet, but then I wouldn’t be able to blend into the background unnoticed and unremarked. So probably Judi’s clothes are under no threat from me.

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