He texts at 8:30 p.m. asking if it’s okay to stay the night at his friend’s house. (I’m irritated that he didn’t text earlier in the evening, but remind myself that he doesn’t need to ask permission. After all, he’s 19 now, and he’s asking permission to spend the night with a friend whose parents are home.) I text back and ask if it’s okay with the friend’s parents. He texts and says, “We already asked. It’s okay.”
Then he texts, “Love you.”
I ask him to chop some wood and get us stocked up on kindling. He does so without grumbling. (I’m irritated that he doesn’t notice that we are out of kindling and that I have to ask, but remind myself that he was quick to get the job done.)
I ask him how classes are going. We sip coffee as he discusses his frustrations with this new semester. He mentions that his grades are good. (I’m relieved and somewhat surprised that he checks his grades, and then wonder why I am surprised.)
I grumble at him for always being on his phone. “You seem so disconnected from us,” I say. “It feels like you don’t want to be here.” He says, “I do want to be here,” as he goes off to his room to get ready for school. (I wonder if I would want to be here if someone was always bitching at me about chopping wood and being on my phone.)
The day the bank statement arrives, we heatedly discuss his finances and whether there will be enough left in his account to pay for the next semester. “I see how often you stop at Taco Bell. Why? Is that what all your friends do?” He says, “I’m a homeschool kid, mom. It’s good I have friends to hang out with. We’re not buying beer and cigarettes.”
“I know I’m blowing through the money,” he says. “I’ve picked up several job applications. It’s all gonna work out. You’ll see.”
He has said this before.
When I worried about whether it was a good idea to homeschool he said, “It will work out.”
The problem is that I worry. I worry that I’ve not done my job.
Have I taught him financial responsibility? Have I showed him what it is to be a good friend? Have I taught him the importance of doing well in school? Will he avoid the choices that get him in trouble? Did I miss the window of opportunity to teach him the stuff he needs to know to be independent?
Did I do enough?
Is he prepared for the real world?
Shouldn’t he be here more so I can make sure we’ve covered absolutely everything?
Shouldn’t he be here … more?
That’s the real problem, isn’t it? The problem is that I’m not ready for him to leave. It’s not about whether he’s ready or not.
I’m not ready.
The problem with my teenage son is me.