Adulting: The Game

I moved my daughter to college last weekend. It was joyous, scary, exciting, and sad all at the same time, and I’m just talking about my emotions. During our transition over the last couple of months, since her high school graduation and turning 18 (it’s been a big summer), we’ve both been learning how, not to let go, but how to hold on differently. During this time, I’ve been slowly transitioning the reins of responsibility over to her. Health forms? Financial aid forms? Email and address forms? All hers. Packing for her dorm room? Budgeting for supplies? Hers too. But through this, we’ve started playing a game based off the fun term “adulting.”

Adulting is “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” Is it a “real word”? Maybe, or maybe not. As someone with an M.A. in English, I personally love how our language changes and molds to our needs. And I think it’s fun.

Adulting Points are awarded when your new adult child person navigates something on their own, with your help and guidance. When they were learning how to walk on their own, we lent a hand to steady or catch them. Now, they’re learning how to order college books and fill out health forms. It’s not so very different. Dishing out Adulting Points when accomplishing mundane tasks lends a nice little levity to our text and phone conversations.

So how does one play “Adulting: The Game”?

Like the definition, “adulting” is just the simple act of doing “real-life” things. For the last 18 years, I’ve done a lot to help support her in the background. That’s been my job as a parent. But now, three hours away, she’ll have to manage going to classes, getting food, cleaning, remembering various little things, and more on her own. Awarding Adulting Points is a cheery way of patting her on the head.

For example, my student needed to transfer some prescriptions to a new pharmacy in her college town. Could I have kept them here at our home pharmacy and mailed her the refills? Sure. Is that what an adult would do? No. So I made sure she had the prescription labels and her insurance cards, and explained what she had to do. Not only did she successfully do it in one visit, she also made the decision to change to an entirely new pharmacy, closer to her dorm. That got a whopping 50 Adulting Points, awarded via text. Let’s face it; long-time adults hate doing that kind of thing.

Also, my student unfortunately mistyped her email when ordering an online textbook. Instead of running to fix it for her, I texted what I would do, as a suggestion. She made the decisions and took the steps to contact the school bookstore’s customer service on her own. I texted her “+10 Adulting Points.” I also joked that I should’ve subtracted some points for mistyping her email. But I was feeling generous.

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Finally, when faced with a rather long supply list for one class, she asked what should she do to get all of the items. I suggested Amazon, the local art supply and hardware stores, and so on. She made the decision to go out early the next morning to the local stores to get them in hand faster. I pointed out that Amazon would probably be cheaper, but after some research on her part, the difference was minimal. Speed won out. It was a good conversation about budgets and costs, as well as how much your time is worth. And she got a couple of Adulting Points in the end, for doing the research and lugging all that stuff from the store.

Make It Fun

Has she been really busy this last week? Yep. Has she been busier than she thought she’d be? Absolutely. But she’s communicated and asked for help when she needed, and with every task completed, every errand run, and every supply and book list fulfilled, we got to celebrate with the silly reward of Adulting Points.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might realize that Adulting: The Game is a lot like House Points. Go Team Ravenclaw. Like Hogwarts, you can even work your game out to be based around the school year.

What’s the prize? Unlike House Points, winning doesn’t get you a party at the end of the year. Maybe after so many accumulated points, I’ll send a care package of goofy items from The Dollar Store and a few bucks on Venmo. The real prize, though, is your student’s pride and relief at being able to negotiate life’s roadblocks successfully, and the drop in anxiety you’ll experience when you see that they can, in fact, take care of themselves.

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