“When someone asks me what I do for a living: I’ve made two people, and I am their leader.”
— Random internet meme
All things considered, Mr. Wonderful and I feel that our build-your-own-humans-entirely-from-scratch projects turned out remarkably well. I mean, considering we had no idea what we were doing and made most of it up as we went along.
Our two children are now fully-fledged, college-aged adults. Bright. Capable. Hard-working. Excellent work ethics. Kind to people and animals. Good grades. They grasp the importance of an R.S.V.P. They never type “r u” in a text. All the necessary life skills are there.
Then, our son announced he was going to Australia all by himself this past summer and kind of broke the internet. I received emails. I received letters. I had people stop me in coffee shops and streets. How could I allow him to take off on such a potentially dangerous adventure, they asked?
My answer: How could I not? I’m pretty sure I can’t ground someone who is legally old enough to order a beer.
“But wait,” some folks said, “doesn’t he live with you? Drive your vehicle? Don’t you pay for his cell phone?”
Yes, we do. I still don’t feel that gives me the right to dictate his life choices.
There is an argument that seems prevalent these days that 18 isn’t really an adult. Check out any parenting forum and many conversations, and people are very quick to “yeah, but” the idea that their 18-year-old is a fully formed adult.
“Yeah, but we still support her” and “yeah, but we pay his tuition.”
That may all be well and good, and you do you in your home, I suppose. Our deal has been that they cover the cost of tuition, trade school or the journey of their choosing. We want them to feel that cost. To make the commitment. To have a little skin in the game, so to speak.
Both have hustled to earn every scholarship or internship they have coming to them. Our side of the bargain is to provide room and board and general life support for costs like insurance, vehicle and communication needs. In this vein, our children still live at home.
Live at home
By this, I mean BoyWonder in particular lives at home, the way porch raccoons do. He comes around every once in a while. Eats our food. Sometimes leaves a mess. That’s kind of how we know he’s been here.
To be fair, he can be very helpful as well. He runs errands and asks what he can do around the house.
GirlWonder is home slightly more often, but with two jobs and college on her plate, she’s usually studying or asleep. She helps out with chores. She is really the only reason we remember to eat things like avocados and kale. Sure, she might leave shoes by the door but to be fair, they are very cute shoes.
Recently, our state enacted a new law to make the smoking age 21. For the record, I do not smoke. I have never smoked. I am not pro-smoking. That said, I am pro-adults-should-adult.
I find it interesting that the age to register for selective service remains 18, while the age to smoke a legal cigarette or purchase alcoholic beverages arrives a full three years after the right to go to war, pay taxes and be legally obligated for any signed contract.
Speaking of don’t ask, just tell, I don’t give adults curfews. Communication among adults is a courteous notification. Permission is not requested because it is really not necessary. “I won’t be home until late” or “I won’t be home tonight” will suffice.
I truly do miss my babies sometimes even as I cherish this empty-ish nest time with my young adults. I know that the days when they will still live with us in theory, if not in practice, are waning. Someday I will pack up my children — and a fair amount of our possessions — and send them out into their own homes. When I do, they won’t need to text for permission to stay out late, travel or eat the last of the ice cream.
I think it’s wise that we start practicing for that inevitable day now. I propose we host a seminar titled What to Expect: Your Adult Offspring Years. We will highlight healthy boundaries with focus groups such as No Mama, You Don’t Need a Key to Their Place, Your Adult Kids May Not Call Every Day and That’s Okay and Parenting Adults for Dummies.
The real money will come in our gift packages. Young adults can purchase them for their parents. We’re gonna be rich.
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