Listen to your parents … most of the time

Listen to your parents … most of the time

As I continue living on my own, I realize that a lot of what I do is based on what I was taught by my parents. This shouldn’t be a surprise, parents are supposed to guide their children as they mature and grow up.
For the most part I would say my parents did a pretty decent job raising me. I didn’t get into much trouble, and the trouble I did get into, I was able to hide it from them and let them assume they had a spotless record.
However, as I grew up I began to question some of the rules and advice I received from my parents.
And now, as I am living alone, I can run my life how I want it. While I do live my day-to-day life based on my parents’ wisdom, some of their teachings haven’t made it with me to Pittsburgh.
My first problem with their teachings has also been a problem for just about every single one of my friends.
Every two weeks my family had a cleaning company come and clean our house. They would come every other Friday morning to do a thorough cleaning of every square inch of the house. From the bedrooms to the kitchen, our house was clean.
But the Thursday evening before the cleaning, a war would ensue between my parents and me.
“Make sure your room is cleaned for the cleaners,” my mom would always remind me.
Does this make sense to anyone?
Do you cut your hair before visiting the barber? Do you bring your own cooked food to restaurants?
The night before a cleaning company comes should be the night where you throw a giant party, track mud through the house — just because you can — and do anything else, with few consequences.
But of course that was not the case. Instead, Thursday nights became a time for me to clean my room, so the cleaners could come in the next day and clean it … I guess.
I never quite understood what they did in my room on Friday. Maybe they walked in, remarked on my room’s cleanliness, did a little vacuuming and left. All I know is that I’m sure they thought I was the cleanest teenager ever.
The next task — making the bed — is also a popular battle between parents and their children. I fought my parents on this every day.
I will proudly say that since I moved to Pittsburgh, I have not once made my bed. That’s right; in some five months my bed has never been made.
And guess what, I’m still alive. I know it’s crazy, my mom would tell me to make my bed like my life depended on it. But here I am able to tell my tale.
I always told my mom that when our house was on the Parade of Homes route, I would make my bed like never before. That promise still holds true for my small studio apartment.
And mom, don’t worry, I haven’t lost any friends because they’ve seen my unmade bed.
And my final life task conquered, since the teachings of my parents, is laundry. Growing up, my mom always sorted our darks and whites. I’ll admit that growing up I was never expected to do laundry. I love you mom.
However, when I went to college I had to learn. I had my parents and my girlfriend both show me how to do laundry.
Let me say that I was probably the only guy in my fraternity house that separated his darks from his whites. Always worrying about whether my clothes would come out pink or not haunted my laundry day.
All that changed when I was introduced to permanent press. Throw all your clothes in, put the washer on cold water and let it go. My life truly began that day.
I’m sure there are more life-changing issues I will address over the next few months, and while my parents did a fine job preparing me for life on my own, I’ve been able to slightly improve it with some handy, helpful modifications.
So for you soon-to-be parents, or parents with young children who think you won’t fall into the trap of the Thursday night war, the bed making or the separating of darks and whites — you will.
And when you do, you will think back to this column, and chuckle to yourself a little bit.
I’ll just say — I told you so.

(Mike Zoller’s column “On My Own,” published monthly, deals with issues facing a young Jewish adult as he lives on his own in a new city for the first time. Have a comment or a topic you would like to see written about? E-mail them to

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