I know. You can’t fashion a self-made man.
That’s the point of the self-making bit; he makes himself.
But, when that man is your son, you like to think you had a hand in the process.
I’m at an age where I have a teen, as do many of my friends.
As I watch the battles between generations—some big, some piddling—I marvel at why it is parents, who were once teens themselves, expect conformity.
I know some adults who never rebelled. Never tested their limits as a teen.
Between you and me, they’re kind of vanilla.
Milquetoast, in fact.
I am not saying I enjoy the battles. But I understand where they come from on the teen end—and it is a desire to find oneself. To say, “This is me. This is not.” With an authority that comes from deep within. Not from a voice that has been calling you to the dinner table for more than a decade.
It is natural for us to want our kids to adopt our values and our lifestyle. It is what we know. It is comforting. It is what we tested and found true.
Somewhere on the West Coast, there is a vegan who meditates and teaches yoga who is praying her son does not move to Texas, work on a ranch and learn to love barbecue.
I’m sure there is a couple on the East Coast who cannot figure out why their daughter did not take to one-piece bathing suits and the Young Republicans club. Who are stymied at their surfing, bikini-wearing progeny. Did I mention she recently introduced them to seitan?
It takes a lot of maturity and self-control to recognize that at a certain point, we do not make the choices anymore. What to have for dinner, who is an acceptable date, whether the lyrics to a song are appropriate.
But we are the parents. Our job description spells out maturity and self-control as prerequisites, no?
Ha. If only.
I learn acceptance as I go.
The military? As a mother, makes me shudder. Worry. Lose sleep. But he finds himself drawn to it.
Rap music that makes women sound like property? And stupid property, at that? Hate it. And he knows it. Which is why he likes it. I am counting on this being a phase. He has the smarts to know those lyrics do him no good. He likes them, in part, because I don’t.
Here is the secret I hold close: when my son makes himself over into who and what feels right in his own skin, I will have made my mark.
He may not ever like Sister Hazel’s music or broccoli, but he will have a voice inside him that tells him “People before things” and “Family matters.”
I got to have my say on the important stuff. Better yet, he got to see me live the important stuff.
Did I screw some of it up? Sure.
He has hopefully learned patience along with me, as it is a trait I had to work for later in life.
Truthfully, he has been one of my biggest teachers of patience. I had to learn it or be hurtful to him.
Just as I had a hand in the ingredients that go into this self-made man, he had a hand in shaping me to become who I am today.
I am a better person for it. And so is he.
I think that is what this self-making bit is supposed to be all about anyway.