Just when I have had enough of the talking back, the insolence and the general challenges that come with parenting “an almost tween,” my son turns around and does something so sweet and special that all of those bad times melt away. I have to admit I am a softie anyway but he really got me this time.
My husband was leaving town on a Saturday night for a conference so I decided that we should go to five o’clock mass and then out to dinner. The argument for the defense began. “Mom, I hate going to church, they say the same thing every week and it is so boring.” He started.
“Well, it is my job to make sure that you have good values, just like it is my job to make sure that you eat your vegetables. Going to church just reinforces what we believe in.” He bounced the basketball hard on the pavement of the driveway and thought about his next argument.
“Mom, we already have good values, we don’t need to go to church! Please mom!” I was finished with this banter and I was not going to give in. “Inside in fifteen minutes and then shower and change.” I said as I went inside to cajole my daughter into doing the same. In the background I could hear, “Come on mom!” But I chose to ignore it and stood my ground.
Dutifully, fifteen minutes later, he came inside and showered and changed into his khakis and polo shirt. “Mom can you help me?” he pleaded. Okay, I thought, he probably needs socks. “Can you help me put this wallet in my back pocket?” I helped him with it and didn’t really think about why he wanted his wallet with him. I guess I just thought he was trying to be like his dad.
We went to mass and then walked through Wayne deciding on a restaurant. We sat down for dinner and ordered our drinks. Then the big surprise came. “Mom, since we are going to Hawaii this summer for a vacation, I want to buy dinner to help you save money for the trip.” I was truly taken aback. Was this the same self entitled boy who had insisted I make his bed because he was “just too tired?” No, this boy was the boy I had hoped we would raise; a caring, empathic and thoughtful person. I was proud to know that all of my work here daily is not in vein and something actually managed to get through. As parents, we have all had these moments. On this particular day, all I could think is, “One day he will make a fine young man,” and that is all I want.