My son, just three weeks shy of his 18th birthday, invited me for dinner last night. Who in their right mind would decline?
Being a single parent from the ‘East’ moving into the ‘West’, I have always found it a challenge to strike the right balance in parenting. Am I too being too soft or too harsh, am I being very understanding or very difficult, am I policing everything he does or letting him run wild, am I too judgemental or too liberal..and on and on. Some well wishers(??) from two-parent families with children of their own kept warning me of the pitfalls of single-parenthood every time I saw them, adding to my growing anxiety. But there was always something about my son and his sensitivity that made my day.
I remember in 2003, I was contemplating buying a condo for us. He was only 12 years old but was fascinated by the multiple calculations and options I was charting in my journal to finish the deal. At his request I walked him through the mechanics of saving and mortgage. At that time, he made no comments except to express his grasp of the terminologies.
In 2006, he turned 15 and was legally employable. As soon as he expressed interest in a part time job, I opened a checking and savings account for him. I advised him that his potential employer would be depositing his wages into his checking account. He was free to spend every penny he earned, however, if he were to move any funds from checking into savings account, I would match that amount, thereby his savings would grow easily along with the interest. I also warned him that any amount he withdrew from savings account, I would also withdraw identical amount. At that time, he said: “That’s fair! “,and till date he has not withdrawn any money from his savings account!
In 2007, I walked him through personal grooming (shaving his facial hair and tying a tie-knot)…..man oh man,…was my style conservative or not..?? He laughed so much that the knot would not stay in place. Finally we found some helpful You Tube videos and together we both learnt the different ways of tying a tie-knot. We also went over social skills on how to treat a ‘gal’, how to be respectful of/to others, even if he disagreed with their views and opinions.
Last evening my son asked me, “Have dinner with me tonight?’. He had made reservations at an upscale restaurant in downtown, groomed himself well and drove me to the restaurant, made small talks all through the drive and the dinner, asked me about my week, my work and my up coming projects. He sat through patiently even though at time his eyes would droop (he had pulled an all-nighter the previous night). He was very gracious to the servers and calmly drove me home.
Boy, oh, boy, what a treat, did I do good with him or what..?