Responsibility, Teen-Style

My son likes to throw around the phrases, “I’m 18 and an adult” and “You’re trying to control me” whenever my husband or I question some of the chucklebrained things he wants to do. I’ve told him that as his parents, it’s our job to not endorse every little scheme of his if we think it’s not a good decision for him. I also said there are very few ways we can control him, the only one being funding his college. For that, we expect him to study and do reasonably well, not party his life away on alcohol and drugs. If he thinks those expectations make us awful and overbearing, then he’s welcome to figure how to swing paying for school himself.

Usually that ends his fit of pique. Sometimes I think he’s still testing boundaries.

A classic example of his being not as grown up as he thinks is our fantastic errands for today, two days before we move him to school. He’s been needing a haircut for ages and I kept telling him he needed to make his own appointment as I don’t know his schedule and the last few times I had to change the appointment after I’d made it because he didn’t like the time. But he really wanted me to do it for some reason.

20130827-181835.jpgThis went on for months, him mentioning I should make him a hair appointment, me repeating he needed to do it himself. He finally made his own damn appointment. He didn’t really want that “just been cut” look, but he’ll have to live with it.

The other errand has to do with his medical records. For as many times as my husband and I asked him if he had all the forms turned in he needed, he told us he had it under control.

He didn’t.

We received a letter from school reminding us that he didn’t have his immunization record or up-to-date physical and he would be kept from classes without this information. Arg. We drove over the the doctor’s in hopes he was up-to-date, but if course he wasn’t. So he got squeezed in for a physical and had to get two shots. He gets faint at needles, but it kind of feels like justice to me. He’s lucky the receptionist is a nice lady who recognizes me from my monthly visits to pick up my kid’s scripts. She parked herself outside the doctor’s door to make a spot for my son. I think I owe her flowers or something.

As he progressing through school, it’ll be interesting (read: obscenely frustrating and scary for me) to see how much my son will procrastinate and how much he’ll have to work twice as hard to fix the things he puts off. He’s got no sense of urgency unless it has to do with feeding himself.

Lest you think we over coddled the boy, we didn’t. I would’ve liked to have let him fall down more often than my husband would (who preferred a lot of arguments with our son to letting the kid fail). I figure we were here to guide him in picking up the pieces. The mistakes would be more fixable than the potential problems he might create for himself away at school.

For instance, he decided, after taking an extremely difficult BC Calculus class through John Hopkins University, not to bother taking the AP calculus exam. My husband was very angry about this and I thought this a poor choice. Come this summer, kiddo finds out he’s going to have to take the BC Calculus class again because he didn’t take the exam. He is not happy about this and is trying to find a way out of it. I’ve advised him, but I refuse to call the school on his behalf. He claims “angry parent” will go further than “upset student.” I disagree. This is a time for him to stand up for himself and also be ready to accept the consequences if the university declines his petition.

He’s an “adult” when it’s all fun and carefree delinquencies; he needs his mommy when it’s time to be a grown up.

Ah, to be 18 again.


12 thoughts on “Responsibility, Teen-Style

  1. I love the way you’re approaching it… So many mothers do EVERYTHING for their child, allowing for them to never make adult decisions!! Makes me crazy! Good for you! πŸ™‚

  2. tundrawoman says:

    Two more days until sonny-boy becomes the chopped liver of college social life: A freshman guy.
    Just keep smilin’ PV…reality is at hand! πŸ˜‰

    • Only if I wanted to re-write history and delete my response accepting that I made a mistake and fixed it thanks to your call. Frankly, I’d rather admit I was wrong when that’s the truth. πŸ™‚

  3. We have this issue in our house with our daughter – my son was never really a problem he just moved into adult mode as he grew naturally. He asks advice, you can tell when he is stressed etc. as he keeps talking and talking but he makes the decisions and stands up for it all etc.

    My daughter though… She needed a tax form filled in – it sat for weeks not done, I just sat on Monday and did it and got her to sign it – I know I shouldn’t but really she can be like a 5 year old “It’s too complicated, too stressful” she whines away. Her boyfriend laughs as my wife still gets her school bag ready! She is nearly 18 – I’ve argued with my wife about it – her reasoning is that she’ll forget things but she has never learnt the responsibility. So it is difficult to get the balance right, esp when in all honesty the child is manipulating you

    • I recognize the manipulating, which helps. I scratch my head wondering how he figured out to try those tactics. I guess he realizes that in the end, we love him and want him to be happy, comfortable and successful. What he doesn’t count on is that my husband and I actually think struggles and hard work are good for you and often rewarding.

      I guess my bottom line is that no matter how he falls, and he will experience some failures, I will always be here without judgment (ok, maybe a little head shaking, eye rolling and pointed word or three) to help him find his way.

  4. Oh this sounds all too familiar, my Princes was a classic “adult” 18 year old! They “think” they are all grown up, but they soon realize they need as more than ever! Hang in there mom! πŸ™‚

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