By Kristin van Ogtrop
Susanna Howe

1) You must always carry money in your wallet. Especially if you are driving 20 miles away to your ultimate frisbee league game and the car’s computer tells you you have 15 miles to go until you run out of gas. And it’s nighttime, Dad is working late, and Mom is at home with your sleeping 5-year-old brother.

2) If you throw your jeans on the floor of your bedroom, they really will never get washed. As crazy as this may seem, the only things that get washed are the things that go into the hamper.

3) It is never, ever helpful or productive to blame it on your mother that you did not know there were pancakes staying warm in the oven, and so you ate a bowl of cereal instead. It is not her fault that, although she made the pancakes for you at 8:30, you did not get up until 11.

4) Slowly using cups and plates out of the clean dishwasher over the course of 8 hours is not what your mother meant when she asked you to empty it.

5) Moms like to get letters from camp. Especially if you are away for a month and each of the three letters you do manage to write are basically just very short demands for care packages. This might hurt your mom’s feelings or, worse, make her really mad. Which actually does not further your own personal agenda in the long run.

6) Telling your mother—at the age of 5, no less—that dinner was “so, so delicious” will earn you more brownie points than you can ever imagine. Really, they’ll last for years.