Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eighteen Equals.....

Isn't it silly? That we wait half of our teenage lives to become eighteen years old. We stand by, transfixed on that magical number as if it holds some secret of great things to come. We talk and talk of "when I turn 18 this", and "when I'm 18 that", so much so that almost everyone around us will be so glad when it finally happens. And then, just as it's about to finally be that day, the count down is on. One month, two weeks, three days. We are so anxious one would expect us to burst into flames at most any give time.

Then it's here. That day is finally here. Some have parties. Some don't. Some have build ups so mighty as if to replicate the first man walking on the moon. Reincarnations of  Fourth Of July's gone by. Coming out parties filled with wine, beer and booze, all of which they are still too young for, and certainly not legally ready.

And then, it's the same. Maybe not that day. That night. But the next day, it is exactly the same. The world didn't change overnight. There are still rules. There are still curfews. And for some, still high school English in fourth period the next day.

Only it's not the same. Not really.  With that age comes a modicum of difference. And those differences should be recognized and acknowledged. As the adults 'in charge', we should respectfully announce that we are aware that there is a difference and discuss just what the limits for those differences will be.

My oldest son moved out of our family home when he was 18 years + 3 months old. I was no longer 'in charge' of him, what he did, who he spent his time with, how late he stayed out, or if he even came home. All choices and decisions were his to make. Right or wrong.

And now in March my youngest son will be eighteen years old. He of course will still be high school. And he will still be living at home. After graduation, his plans are to go to college locally and still live at home for a period of time.  The combination of all those things change the rules somewhat. How much you ask? Well, that right there was a hard thing to decide.

There is a lot to think about. A lot of what ifs. What's fair to everyone involved. What works for everyone involved. And yes, all of those things matter. It is up to us as parents to decide what is fair for everyone, discuss it with and without our child, and then maybe re-group and discuss it again. After all, if he didn't live here, I would have no say so at all. And since he does, I think/believe the decisions should be made together.

So curfews have been altered, with guidelines that will alter them again upon graduation. Firm but fair stipulations set in place for each instance I thought needed discussing. All with the promise of "you do your part, and I will comply with mine".

I never cared for my parents using the "this is our house, not yours, we just let you live here" statements. So I refused to go that route. My statement stands as this : "This is the house of everyone who lives here at any given time. That being said, everyone will participate in it's upkeep and what it takes to keep a home running. And that simply means, if this is still where you live when you are twenty five years old, you will still be taking out the trash and making your bed."

There are few smooth roads to complete adulthood, if there even is any such thing. But I hope to have as many as possible and I especially hope that by loosening the rope, I give leeway for my son to make good, smart, and healthy choices. Because everybody knows; bad choices and foolish choices always result in repercussions, whether those repercussions are dealt by me, or life itself.

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder. Down roads yet untraveled, filled with pot holes and land mines. Roads just lying in wait for inexperienced travelers and new adults blinded by the light of "I'm eighteen now and invisible". Go forward, step lightly, tread gingerly, and think often and hard about every decision you make. Act with faith, hope and courage, using your heart as your compass, and your head and guts as your leader. You will need all three of those things for the rest of your natural born lives. Use them wisely and they will serve you well.

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