The Golden Child moved into his first apartment a few weeks ago; his first real "go" at self-sufficiency. He lived in a dorm for a year, but that doesn't count. In his own apartment, he has to figure out where electricity, water, internet, and food comes from -- and what he has to fork over to get them.
A couple of months ago, I started cramming in whatever last minute life-training I could in the hope of catching up on the kind of parenting I had been putting off too long. I started dropping pearls of wisdom about paying bills on time, avoiding the multitude of credit card offers, nipping roommate problems in the bud, not becoming a roommate problem, etc.
And I tried to teach him that preparing food at home -- from scratch, with fresh ingredients -- was far tastier, healthier, cheaper, and more likely to impress women than ordering pizza every night. I dragged him to the Farmers' Market and narrated my dinner preparations like a taller, slower, more irritable Rachel Ray. (Sometimes he was even in the room -- most often, though, he would mumble, "Uh-huh... that's great, Mom" from the next room in between battle sequences on Final Fantasy XII.)
Mostly, I tried to teach by example. When he wanted burgers, I made the buns, ground my own meat (from TWO KINDS OF BEEF, no less), and sliced my own potatoes for homemade french fries. Later, when my mother asked him what we did for dinner, he said, "Oh, we just grilled some burgers." I made him call her back and tell her they were the best ^%$# burgers he'd ever eaten.
But something must have stuck with him -- probably the same way the "Ain't No Bugs on Me" jingle has stuck with me.
He called me last week and said, "Tell me how to cook asparagus."
He was in his kitchen, asparagus in hand, preparing dinner for his roommates. I said, "First, you need to trim off the tough bottom..."
"I know, Mom. I did that."
Then came the real test question. "Do you have any olive oil?"
He said... get this... "Yes."