Being a parent can sometimes seem like a thankless job. You work hard, lose sleep, sometimes even lose yourself, all in the name of your children. But I can tell you, one of the highlights of being a parent is seeing the knowledge you’ve tried so hard to impart to your children being used in action.
My youngest son turned 18 in December. I’ve joked with him for years that he would be receiving a suitcase for that birthday and a loving swift kick in the ass to move out.
No, I didn’t do that.
Max, my son, quit school not long after his 16th birthday. He was being heavily bullied and the school system wouldn’t do anything about it. By law, he could quit without any legal repercussions, however, he knew that it was something we needed to discuss before doing so. Education is important to me, but not to the detriment of my son’s mental health and self-worth.
I allowed him to quit, with the caveat that he must begin homeschooling immediately. We worked hard for two years in this endeavor, but due to missing so much school at the beginning of his high school career when he lived with his dad, and barely having any credits, it was almost an exercise in futility.
In order to graduate, we would be doing home school until he turned 20 most likely. That’s unacceptable to us both, so he enrolled in a GED program as soon as he turned 18. Because of our hard work over the two year time span, he was able to test out of all classes and take the tests right away. He passed with flying colors.
His next step in life was to find gainful employment, which he did very quickly. He applied to and was hired at the first place he went. I say all of this to say, Max has always had a hard time keeping up with responsibilities as a general rule. There are things he’s expected to do around the house that I am constantly having to remind him of, which drives me nuts.
But after he got a job, and had been working for a couple of weeks, his outlook on things shifted.
I noticed I was no longer having to remind him to do things, like shower regularly, take out the trash, tend to the animals. He was getting up on a schedule, taking care of what he needed to. Being responsible for his duties at work, where he’s obviously getting paid, helped him to understand why routine and accountability are important.
Friday was one of his days off, and he willingly chose to go to work with my husband. This is back breaking, hard manual labor, something Max has always tried to avoid at all costs. But he asked to go. Yes, he got paid, a better rate per hour than he makes at his regular job, and I’m sure that was part of why he wanted to go. I don’t blame him one bit.
Rather than spend the cash he made on a new video game, or something personal, he wanted to take us out for dinner. This is my child who in the past, would spend every dime he ever encountered on video games. But with the $70 he made today, he chose to treat us with an exceptional meal.
These are the moments that show you, as a parent, that all your hard work meant something. You can teach your children so much, and you should, so that when they get out into the real world, they apply those lessons along with wisdom of their own.