My son is twenty years old. I sometimes feel as if he is twenty going on 7. Before I go any further, I have to state he is the great love of my life. I raised him without his dad around and with the very close knit love, support, patience and help of my small family. I love him so very much – and dammit if he isn’t the one person I think of as “dumbass” more than anyone else? Was I the same at his age? I mean – I had to be RIGHT?!
Holy fuck. H O L Y F U C K. I look around at the generation that we’ve raised and I cannot believe we have allowed it to happen. In our efforts to raise gentle people and to not pass on the spankings, wood spoon beatings our parents gave us – we have made some serious (by and large) parenting mistakes. We’ve allowed them to attend schools that accepted late work. Makeup work. Our kids do not fully grasp the word “deadline” or “consequence”. H O L Y F U C K. Shame on us. Truly.
Now I was harder on my son in some ways than his friends’ parents were. I’m a pretty structured and strict person. (he might say controlling, but he isn’t here…) But you know what? I also did EVERYTHING for that boy. I am sure I was trying to make up for his dad not being around – or simply couldn’t trust him to wash things correctly, or not break my dishes – or whatever. So I did a lot of it myself. It was EASIER for me to simply do it. But I didn’t do it all wrong. I mean, he has a great work ethic. He shows up and works hard. He doesn’t call out sick. He is generous and kind with his friends. He has a solid heart. The years of karate and Young Marines youth group added some toughness to his character and provided solid structure for him. I refused to get him a smartphone, or to have a gaming system in the house until his last year in high school.
The things in which he is more casual about in his life drive me bonkers. I know I’m anal. I know I am riddled with anxiety and fear for him – probably unreasonably so. But from where I stand I cannot help but worry. He doesn’t work with a checkbook type of tracking system. He loses his ATM card at least 4 times in a year. He doesn’t have a driver’s license. He refuses to wear his glasses (that he needs) out of vanity. He insists upon having around 10 pairs of probably $200 shoes. He and his generation focus way too much on their looks (selfie driven?) I made him move out at the end of last year because he had stopped going to his junior college and was just sitting around playing games and spending his money. (Believe me when I tell you that I was an absolute nagging nightmare at that point and making the situation at home intolerable for everyone. He wasn’t. I was.) So he’s out there living “on his own” spending more than he has and sometimes I’ve helped with $$. How does he stand it? When is enough enough?
(Although truth be told I did ring up huge credit card debt twice in my life; I didn’t learn the first time)
When is he going to start acting more grown up? When did we? What IS grown up? Am I worrying for nothing? My mom tells me that I was oddly responsible for my age (mostly). Why couldn’t my son have gotten that trait from me?! Why did he get my sense of humor instead? I don’t really mean that – I do love funny people and think that it’s a huge help through the life. But do you get my drift here? Why couldn’t he maybe learn from me about tracking finances – at least – on a spreadsheet? Learn from the money mistakes that I’ve made while raising him even?
Do they really just have to figure it all out the hard way?
I’m thinking yes. And I’m thinking that I hope my heart will be able to take it. Cuz I do love that dude with every breath in my body – and then some.
Oh and I went on a couple of walks already this week as I’m in “transition”. I start my new job on Monday. I really love those Hoka shoes – what a difference!
I have a recommendation for parents out there. Watch “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix. Watch with your teens. Talk about it. It is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever watched. Brilliant in its crafting and daring approach to what it must be like to be a teenager right now. Nothing is romanticized. So many issues (other than suicide) are contained within the weaving of this tale – and parents are not left to simply hang. We hang with them and experience some of their sides as well. It’s haunting.