Adulthood, or, You Need a Plan the Day You Turn 17, Young Man.

I have always been a planner. Well, by always, I mean as long as I had a notion about planning something. I remember getting myself in a bit of hot water in elementary school when I realized that two different school programs in which I participated were conflicting. I wasn’t in trouble, per se. It was more that, well, I guess I caught my teachers off guard. I started to take care of the problem, talking it over with my mom and taking her note to school about how she wanted it handled. When I gave the note to my homeroom teacher, she laughed and told me I shouldn’t have concerned myself with this, they (she and my other teachers) had recognized the situation and were going to work things out. Her response made me uncomfortable. I mean, I knew there was a conflict, and the last information I was given involved no resolution… yet, she said I shouldn’t have concerned myself. What’s up with that?

I’m just not the sort of person who is comfortable floating through life, letting things happen to me.

I recognize that everyone is not like me, but I also know that some planning in life is, well, vital.

I think, deep down, one of my concerns about homeschooling our boys is that it might get too…. comfortable. We are all avid learners (adults and kids alike), and I can see how it would just be easy to get into a groove of learning… and avoid stepping fully into the adult world of making your way.

So. A few years ago, I had a talk with my oldest son, who is now 13. I’ll be having a similar conversation with our next oldest son soon. It goes something like this.

Listen. I know you’re just a kid, and I know that’s all that’s in your mind right now, and that’s okay. But, a lot sooner than you know it, you’ll be old enough that what you’re doing and learning each day is going to have a lot of influence on the rest of your life. For example, if you want to go to college, there are certain classes you really need to take during your high school years that you might not need if you have a different plan for after graduation.

 

Here’s the thing: it takes time for me to get things in place for your learning. By the time you turn 13, if you have an idea of what you want to do, for a career or even for just a job, when you finish school, I need you to tell me. I’ll use that information in planning out the remaining few years of homeschooling. If you don’t have a clear idea, that’s actually okay, too… but it means I will be making those decisions that you will have to live with on my own, without input from you. 

 

And, well, there’s more. By the time you have your 17th birthday, you need to have a plan. The plan you need to have is what you’re going to do after your 18th birthday. Seriously, what are you going to be doing the day after your birthday. Will you be attending college classes? Working full time? Enlisting in the armed forces? When you turn 18, you will be an adult, and you will have adult responsibilities. You do not have to make decisions you’ll be stuck with for your entire life: You do not have to select a career and stay committed to it for 60 years. You do not have to stay at a bad job. But you will be an adult, with adult responsibilities. How will you pay your bills? (Yes, you will have bills.) How will you earn enough money for rent? Will you have a roommate? Will you negotiate an arrangement with me and your dad, to stay living with us while you pursue other goals?

 

These are a lot of questions. Remember, you don’t need answers now, but you will need answers at certain points (your 13th and 17th birthdays, in case you forgot 😉 ). So, these ideas should be in the back of your mind now, to keep you aware of what is interesting to you, what you like to do, and what seems like a good way to have a good life, so you have all those ideas feeding into what you think is the best plan for you to step into adult life.