Advice I Gave to My College Age Daughters

This world is a tough place. Sometimes it is the bully tripping you as you walk between the rows of desks in the sixth grade. You trip and your face flushes with embarrassment. Other times the world is the loving mother making you brownies for after school, without even knowing a bully had tripped you. This ebb and flow is what makes life both fantastic and frustrating. When Kiaya went to college I had the idea of leaving her Post-It notes all over her dorm, gentle reminders of advice that I had given her over the years.

The first note stated: Do not do anything that would make me call you an asshole. While other parents may give specific advice, I preferred to cover everything with a simple rule; I started using this personal golden rule when they were very young. I simply told the girls to do nothing that would make me think they were an asshole. I thought of this as a blanket statement as it covered almost everything:

Talking too loud on your cell,

Standing in a busy walkway,

Loudly cursing,

Being those asshole kids who put their hands in each others back pockets,

Being racist or homophobic,

Flunking out of college.

My asshole Post-It covered all that with one simple sentence.

Kiaya’s second Post-It stated: Always wear a cardigan. It will make you look cool. This note worked on multiple levels. First I am mildly obsessed with a casual coolness that I feel I lack. Cool kids wear cardigans; it is just a fact of life to me. Right now open a Google search and type “cool people wearing cardigans”; one of the people will be The Dude from The Big Lebowski. I personally can think of no one cooler than The Dude, his coolness traipses time as even my five-year-old sees Jeff Bridges and says, “Hey Momma, look it’s The Dude.” My thought was if Kiaya feels awkward (and if you know her, you know she does) she could wear the coolness of a cardigan as a shield. The other thing is that a cardigan will keep you a magic comfortable temperature, neither to hot or too cold nor too heavy or light. Cardigans are the perfect accessory.

My third Post-It said: Do not become an alcoholic trollop. College is a time for living and experimenting and I get that, but I also know that dependency can be a bitch. I do not live in a world where I think my children will never have sex or try alcohol. I just don’t want either act to be consuming. The Post-It could have read, “Please, don’t be the hung over girl doing the walk of shame with her panties in her purse,” but that seemed rather long.

I left Kiaya other notes as well, one simply said, “Kiaya, Stop talking. Love, Mom.” If you know her, you know that it was good advice.

Selena left for college the following year and she too received Post-It advice. While both of my children are intelligent (naturally – hah!), Selena has a sense of whimsy while Kiaya is very linear in her thought process.

For the first note I wrote: Condoms are cheaper than diapers. It has been my personal goal that my children get past the age when I got pregnant without being pregnant. Kiaya sailed past hers with no problem. Selena has now passed hers as well and I couldn’t be happier. Babies are expensive and easier to prevent than to care for. I want my daughters to have experiences that I didn’t get to have. Go to school, travel, have adventures, and do it without having a baby attached to your hip is the message of that particular Post-It.

Selena’s next note said: Boys will rape. Never drink from a glass a boy hands you. I have seen Veronica Mars so I feel I am an expert on date rape drugs. Of course, I do not believe that all boys rape, nor do I believe in victim blaming, but I think that being diligent about your surroundings is important. Walking in pairs and letting someone know where you are is just a smart way to live on a college campus. Really, it is a good idea for almost every living situation. My current parenting advice is to forbid my children from traveling to India, as India has been a little rapey recently.

The third note stated: Only I know everything, remember that. This was written tongue in cheek because Selena has a history of thinking she knows everything. She was my very own Clarissa Explains It All. I wanted Selena to know that it is okay to take advice from other people and it is okay to admit that you don’t know or understand something. It is normal and how we grow as people. Accept input, if you don’t like the advice you receive, discard it.

Just like with Kiaya, I left Selena other notes as well. One simply said, “Selena, Shhh…not so loud. Love, Mom.” If you know her, you know it was good advice.

Saidee leaves for college in 13 years. I need to start working on her advice now.

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