Sunday, February 20, 2011

A story about my sons

I have so many things I want to write about, things that will pop into my head throughout the day. But I realize I write very little about my two sons here, so I wanted to tell a story that may describe some small part of who they are. Not a really important story, just an everyday happening.

It was the night before Valentine's Day, and we were listening to Austin make plans to be with his girlfriend (of one year, bleah, but that's another story). He wanted to take her out, but one problem -- no money. He gets weekly allowance plus extras for other things, but he seems to have holes in his pockets because a few days later, it's always gone.

He came up with the idea of wining and dining her (without the wine part) here at home. One potential problem with that was my husband and I had a date of our own, at a restaurant in San Antonio, and so would not be present to supervise. However, his younger brother, Andrew, would be coming home after school with Austin. We gave it our blessing, after some thought about it. I felt confident that Austin would not do anything hugely inappropriate having to do with Katy with his brother around, though you might feel inclined to challenge my thoughts on that, given that Austin is a 16-year-old boy. But I just felt OK with it, gut level.

So then Andrew gets all excited about the prospect of creating a cafe, of sorts, for Austin's girlfriend, and possibly even cooking for the two of them. He was getting all into this role and coming up with menu items.

(Interruption from Austin, who wanted to show me his new fastball for baseball.) He uses the side of the garage to throw at, and has a metal backboard propped up so he's not usually hitting the brick wall directly. He was trying to show me the intricacies of when the ball would curve for a curveball, but it wasn't doing what he wanted. Finally, he said, "Just two more [pitches], Mom, then you can go back to your video game." (That's a joke; he knows I don't play video games. But he also doesn't know I am blogging about him right now, heh heh.)

Andrew and Austin were coming up with names for their cafe -- Smitty's Dive, I think would have been a good one. Their favorite was "Drewsky's." By the way, it was and is a huge construction zone around here right now. Before Valentine's, we were getting ready to paint the walls in Andrew's room. So in the living room are several pieces of his furniture and all his clothes drawers, then there's a large pile of books and other miscellaneous debris in the back bedroom, etc. It's impossible to clean up around all the piles, and I haven't been home much, so it's sort of a wreck everywhere. Then after painting, it's on to installing flooring to replace the original carpet that came with the house some 17 years ago. (We refloored Austin's room but did not paint in there yet.)

But that was OK, because the boys had an illusion in their heads of this romantic getaway and really just the dining room had to be presentable, just step around the dresser drawers and don't trip over the bucket of painting supplies on your way there. Chef Andrew would wear an apron and make spaghetti, which was about the only meal he felt competent to prepare. He would put up a sign with the name of the cafe on the door, and possibly draw up a menu. (One item: spaghetti.)

I told Austin that Katy's parents would have to approve, and to make sure to tell them we wouldn't be here. He called them to ask and after about 30 minutes, they called back to say no. I could tell they were apologetic because he kept saying, "That's OK." As a parent, I totally understand why they vetoed the whole idea.

So it ended up as it often does -- we gave Austin some money, and he took Katy to a Thai restaurant in San Antonio, spent wildly, drove her home, and didn't get home himself till almost midnight. (When I called him around 11, they were just getting ready to cruise aimlessly around the big city till I vetoed it and told him to come home immediately. This was on a Monday night!)

Poor Drew was left to celebrate Valentine's on his own, at home, till we redeemed the situation by bringing home pizza. Now, if we had known that Austin would definitely be gone on his own date, we would have taken Andrew with us. But we had a reservation for two, not three, and hadn't built in time to swing home to pick him up. Nor did we want to necessarily encourage Austin to go on a date, which is why it came up the night before.

So, this story illustrates the many dilemmas of having teenage children. How much do you trust them? How much autonomy should they have? What's appropriate, and when?

The greatest pearl of parenting wisdom I ever received was from my friend Karen, who raised three children of her own, and said, "In parenting, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't." Every decision you make is subject to criticism and is probably wrong. Exactly so. When I think of my foolish desire to keep my kids safe (see blog post two entries back), I realize how impossible that is. There are way too many hazards in life, and we can't see them all. Every time they get in the car, they are rolling the dice. But even if they were home, they could accidentally burn the house down! You can never stuff them back into the womb again once they're out.

So, these are my kids, but they are not "mine." I often marvel at them and think how lucky I am to be their mom, and wonder how their lives and mine became so intertwined. We didn't pick one another (though I would have picked them in a heartbeat), but here we are. Andrew has a deeply spiritual side and talents that I think are still largely undiscovered, because he's a very internal person and deep thinker. Austin could be a pop star or Hollywood icon, I think he has so much natural charisma. He always makes me laugh and is a charmer, but is also very smart. Now lately, he's worked very hard on his baseball skills and is the starting second baseman for JV. What a shame that he's stuck to the same girlfriend like glue!!

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