My mother was fond of saying, often in moments of exasperation, “wait ‘till you have kids of your own.” She was not wishing me any ill will. I am quite sure she didn’t mean, “I hope your kids treat you the same way you’re treating me.” I’m sure of it. It is only in retrospect, however, that I can even begin to feel her pain. I have kids of my own. They are good kids. They are a challenge. They have not even come close to the challenge that my siblings and I presented my parents. Different issues to be sure, but if only measuring magnitude, they’re miles apart.
Having said all that, my 18 year-old son is presenting me with challenges. I can hear my mom saying… It’s not the same though. Oh sure, the timing could not have been worse. When this most recent “emergency” popped up, I was in the middle of writing a term paper at the Sac State library when the phone call came. I was on a roll and quite likely would have completed it in the next two or three hours. It’s not done yet – the library is open tomorrow and the paper is due on Monday morning. Barring any more emergencies, it will be done. That solves one issue – the easy one – for my son, however, there are no easy answers.
His life is stagnant and he is going nowhere. It’s not that he is doing “bad” things; he’s doing nothing. It’s affecting his self-esteem and now his attitude. He’s pissed off much of the time and guess whose fault it is? He is starting to act out in ways that I cannot condone and currently we are at an impasse that could very well leave him homeless. It has come to a point where I want to help him – indeed, to make up for my past indiscretions… the poor decisions I made in my life that directly affected him. Unfortunately I can’t do some things for him, no matter how much I want to.
I am left with a choice that is the last thing I can do to help him but will not be viewed by him in the short term, if ever as anything more than his dad just messing his life up more. We’ll see what happens… all I know right now is that the “wait and see what happens” strategy I’ve been using is showing signs of wear. I had hoped he would get bored and do something. It is obviously not working and once again I am left with the conclusion that I can’t do it for him. Here is the humbling part: As bad as things are between my son and me, it hardly measures on the scale compared to the severity and length of the problems my own parents faced with me.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am once again presented with an opportunity to reflect on my past and how it affected those whom I love and love me. I cannot even begin to express how sorry I am for my part of the chaos I caused in your lives. I am only getting to experience a mere pittance of what I put you through an honestly – I don’t know how you did it. I know I can’t just say “sorry” and make it all go away, but hopefully knowing that I acknowledge my part of the chaos and that, ultimately, your efforts were not in vain is of some value to you. I am truly sorry. As far as Timmy is concerned, don’t worry too much. It’s going to be OK. He has to walk his path and find his way just as I did mine. He’s a good boy.