Whitefish Bay painter and realtor Kathleen Davis says she had a recurring vision not long ago, involving her 18-year old son, Henry, an avid climber.
"I was having these nightmares," she explains, "that Henry would look back at me and then just take a step off the mountain and that was it."
While Henry was, indeed, scheduled to go on a climbing trip to British Columbia, it did not take a giant metaphorical leap for Davis to realize the bigger concern she had - whether Henry was prepared to take the bigger step and leave for college. But rather than let the dream overwhelm her, she saw it as the spark for something creative.
The result was Davis's new book, You Never Told Me That! A Crash Course in Preparing Your Kids for Independence, drawn from the lessons Davis says she wishes she had gotten before she left for college and which she has gleaned throughout adulthood.
"Some of the things were as basic," she says, "as opening my mail, versus throwing it on the corner of the kitchen counter - and what are the ramifications? That sounds like a very small thing, but it can have a very big impact on your life. It can affect your credit - or you could miss your best friend's wedding."
But other issues she writes about are more difficult - topics like sexual consent, using social media wisely, drinking, and drugs. "Twenty times a day, we have the opportunity to have those conversations," Davis says, "and we let that opportunity pass by."
In the end, Davis says her aim is to put her children - and those of the people who read her book - in a position to be problem solvers. "Small problems, big problems - an ability to just face any problem."
Kathleen Davis speaks about her book Monday evening, July 24th, at Boswell Book Company.