My son is about to turn 20 and I have some feelings about that. When other people turn 20, I think, well yeah, he’s an adult, of course he’s 20. But when Jacob turns 20, I still see the little boy who called blueberries “boobabies” and who peered into a clogged up toilet and diagnosed the problem by announcing, “It need batteries.”
Of course, to have a 20-year old child, I have to be old enough to have a 20-year old child, and when you consider that I was over 30 when he was born, that makes me old. In my head, I stopped aging around 35. When I see 35-year olds, I think “yeah, they’re about my age” and when I see women my age I wonder in wide-eyed horror if people see me at that age.
It’s only one more year before I can send him out to the liquor store for more gin. That’s something, I guess.
I’ve always said that my goal as a parent is to see to it that when and if something were to happen to me, my kids would be sad, but that’s it. Otherwise, they need to be fully functional. They’d still be able to feed themselves and put a roof over their own heads and otherwise go about the daily tasks of living. I remember when they were tiny being amazed at how much they didn’t know. It never occurred to me that I’d have to teach someone how to blow their nose or suck liquid through a straw without drowning. Those are skills you don’t come out of the womb just knowing.
As they got older, they were more and more able to learn on their own, but still the teaching continues. This past August my son got his first apartment. Only through a series of nosy questions did I learn that he needed a certified check for his deposit on move-in. He had no idea that a certified check was different than a regular check and had no idea how to get a certified check. Since he was moving in on a Sunday, this could have been a problem. Luckily, we figured it out on a Saturday and he learned a lot that day.
He lives 700 miles away from me now, and when he had to go to the doctor, he called me. I asked him what, exactly, he expected me to do about that. He stuttered a bit. His whole life, when he needed something, anything, he called his Mommy. “Look, buddy,” I said, “I’d like to help you, but I can’t. You’re legally an adult and doctors won’t talk to me about your medical history. Plus, you’re so far away from me, I have no idea what doctors are around there. You live across the street from the Texas Medical Center. Find a doctor there, make an appointment and show them your insurance card.” And guess what – he did!
Because he learned. He went from this formless bit of nothing to a baby who could only cry and drink and poop to a toddler who could wreak havoc and say cute things to an angsty teenager to this MAN who can pay his own rent and remind himself to go to class and do homework and go to the doctor when he gets ill.
I guess I did it. Now I just have to spend the next few decades making sure my adult child doesn’t get sad.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.