Our youngest turned 21 at 11:23 pm last Tuesday night. Soooo glad Michael was born–and just 23 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. That delay was not because the OB had said “take your time,” (we remembered all too well that our first baby was born within one hour), but because we were watching the exciting, Seattle Mariners, playoff game against the NY Yankees. Apparently, the OB took her own advice, because she saw the end of that playoff game, while we did not. Ken thought he might have to deliver Michael in the car. A Resident delivered the babe, and only after Ken grabbed his shirt and said, “Do not leave this room. This baby is coming soon!”
Michael was in a hurry to get into the world, yes, but in a vampire way of preferring the dark of midnight. He’s grown into the night-est of all night prowlers I’ve ever met, with a huge adjustment from late-night, college life to day-time, working life this fall. I really do think a gap year can be helpful to students’ living into all this painful learning called “Adulting.” And the best news to me is: his supervisor is now responsible for teaching those life lessons about being on time and not over sleeping. I promise I tried my best for 20 years: witness any of the 17 times his sophomore fall that he missed the high school bus and had to pay us for a ride through unpleasant chores, or call an Uber, or run the 4 miles. (BTW, did you know that Uber doesn’t let kids under 18 order rides?)
Speaking of 21st birthdays, today Michael and Ken were running all over Palatine trying to get papers notarized to transfer his custodial bank account into his name, now that he’s a major. Thank you, Grandma Gail for starting a sweet little account 20 years ago “to help buy your first car.” A car now necessitated by totalling “Kate,”, his 15-year-old, phantom-blue bomber that we provided four years ago and which reached 140,000 miles to-from the quad cities, home, and the lake. (Thankful no one was hurt; R.I.P. Kate.)
Michael’s actually an excellent driver–and one with ADHD. We always encouraged him as a kid that we knew he’d grow up to be a safe driver, a good husband and dad, a follower of Jesus, and a good citizen. Positive vision-casting doesn’t prevent negative experiences from hitting hard. With a loud crunch.
Life lessons with our adult kids have included: how to budget your paycheck (hint: take-home pay is what remains after tax is deducted); understanding and paying for car insurance (a story problem: if someone’s car insurance rate increases $70 per month from getting a speeding ticket, how much will it increase when you total one?); researching and buying a used car; and planning a cross-country move. Plus refresher lessons on being a good roommate to your parents, recovering from messy breakups, changing a pothole-damaged tire, that credit cards charge a late fee AND interest, and dealing with cranky bosses. I told my therapist that one of Michael’s shining moments was successfully learning to do his own laundry in FIRST grade. I still revel in the fact that laundry was NEVER my problem as mom; only he dealt with finding a clean uniform for the big game in any sport. We take any parenting victories we can get.
“Adulting” is truly exhausting for each of us. And we all learn life lessons best in real time, but usually only after we blow it. Why does it take so much time and effort to “Adult?” And why am I still learning how after my own 21st birthday’s 34th anniversary? Today I sent the guys on a goose chase, not knowing the difference between getting a medallion signature and a notarized one for that account transfer.
Really, all I need to say is: we are proud of Michael, we love the man he’s become, we cheer him on as a great preschool teacher, we pray for him daily and hourly, and we’ll try our best to coach him more than tell him how to “Adult.” And Ken’s shining parenting moment? The morning after Michael’s crash, Ken threw him the keys to his beloved, Genesis coupe and announced, to Michael’s surprise, “Take my car to work. I believe in you.” That’s all any of us need to hear.