As kids grow up and take more and more responsibility for meeting their own basic needs, I think the focus of parenting shift a lot more to preparing them to go out into the world.
If I had to name ten things I’d like the boy-child to do as an adult, those things would be:
1. Cook; that is prepare actual meals from real ingredients. We’ve been making food together since the boy-child was old enough to hold a wooden spoon and I hope that he puts his (considerable) culinary skill and interest in good food into practice to feed his body his spirit and his friends.
2. Have a firm handshake. I hope he is confident enough in himself to approach encounters with new people with warmth, enthusiasm and genuine interest.
3. Separate the whites from the colours and read the washing instructions. The boy-child’s wardrobe consists largely of jeans and t-shirts, which he is incredibly good at transporting to the laundry basket at the end of the day. Actually driving the washing machine is work in progress.
4. Be the person who stops to ask “can I help?”, rather than walking by and wondering. Years ago, I was at the beach with my youngest brother. An elderly man tripped and fell. Almost before I was aware of it, my brother had got to his feet and was sprinting across the sand to help. The Big T is similarly hard-wired for compassion. With these role-models, I hope the boy-child will also be “that person.”
6. Remember that his mother and grandmothers are women – and continue to treat the rest of my gender with the same respect he shows us.
7. Sew missing buttons back on and put a new hem on over-long trousers. It’s not that hard, and nothing says “slob” like missing shirt buttons.
8. Only make promises he’s sure he can keep. It’s one thing letting his mother down – she loves him unconditionally. Other people, not so much.
9. Check his bank balance before he buys stuff. The boy-child is quite canny with money, but has grown up with electronic transactions and not the sight of an actual empty wallet.
10. Keep his parent’s phone numbers on speed-dial. I know, but I’m still his mother!
This was written as part of my countdown to my son’s sixteenth birthday.
Here’s what’s gone before: