JANESVILLE

The oil light.

The fuse box.

The rental agreement.

Ignore those parts of everyday life at your own peril.

They are just a few things that teens and young adults are learning about in “Adulting 101,” an ongoing course at Hedberg Public Library.

Adulting is the gerund form of the verb “to adult.”

According to the emerging word section of Webster’s dictionary, “to adult” means “to behave like an adult, specifically to do the things—often mundane—that an adult is expected to do.”

Get the oil changed, sort your laundry by colors, pay your car registration fee every year, make eye contact and have a firm handshake—all of that stuff that grownup newspaper readers know how to do.

“These kinds of classes have become a popular thing in libraries,” said Gabrielle Draxler, Hedberg’s youth services librarian. “They’re also based on some of my own struggles with adulting.”

Draxler, who is 26, said she still has to call her parents and ask, “Hey, how do you do this?”

When she developed the class, she wanted it to be in a low-risk, hands-on environment.

The classes run once a month, and the first sessions included topics such as:

  • Preparing for freshman life. This session was for students going off to college and included information about campus resources, getting along with a roommate and, of course, how to make Ramen noodles in a coffee pot.
  • Cars and car care. This session covered how to change a tire, check the oil, clean the wiper blades and jump a battery. It also addressed issues such as driver’s licenses, registration and insurance. Participants were able to try out their new skills on Draxler’s car.
  • Laundry. This session focused on how to read clothing labels, what washer and dryer settings mean, and how to iron and fold clothes.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, the topic will be housing.

“We’re going to talk about happy renting,” Draxler said.

Those who have rented housing are now thinking about the mistakes they made: failing to carefully read the lease, losing their security deposit over something they had nothing to do with and—my personal favorite—having a furnace that vented carbon monoxide into their bedroom.

Along with landlord-tenant issues, the class will cover practical items such as fuse boxes, unclogging a drain, how to change a light bulb, home safety, and cleaning and organizing.

In the future, Draxler hopes to bring in professionals from different fields for practical demonstrations and advice to help young people “adult.”

Many of the young people attending the sessions don’t have someone to teach them those skills, Draxler said.

For adults (noun) who already know how to adult (verb), some of the skills might seem obvious. But at some point a very long time ago, someone had to teach us, too.

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