Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is W. we are talking about here.
My eldest son was born 18 years ago this week. He was a normal weight and hit most of his milestones as he grew with a couple of exceptions. The child didn’t get his first tooth until he was nearly 10 months old and didn’t bother to walk until the 14 month mark. I, of course, expressed concern. He was bright as could be, very verbal and engaged so his mental capabilities were not an issue, his doctor said. Then he went on to tell me about what he called “bone age.”
Some are designed to live very long lives and so start out slowly in terms of growth, his doctor said. This made sense to me considering the men on his dad’s side usually hit the 100 year mark before slowing down in any meaningful way. What might appear to be a deficit without this context was actually a good thing for my little man in the long run.
W. turned 18 this week. He is still practicing his driving and was in no hurry to get his learner’s permit. I got my license on my 16th birthday and just assumed every kid was chomping at the bit to get on the road as soon as possible like I had been. But it is W. we are talking about here. He was happy to ride a bike or skateboard or hitch a ride with a friend right up until about a year ago. He will get his license soon. Not on my time but precisely on his.
I pushed hard in the last months and got him enrolled in college. He went along for the ride along the way but it was clear the entire time that I was the one driving the effort. Classes started before his books arrived. He became convinced he would not be able to catch up and was simply unwilling to apply himself in all the ways that would make him a success as a college student. Today I took him to withdraw. Part of me wanted to apply at least a small dab of shame and parental distain during the process in case this was my duty to insure his future. In case letting him quit so early and so easily was doing him a long-term disservice.
I decided to go a different way.
He withdrew. From school. Not from his own path. The door is wide open for him to try college again later and I hope he does. It will likely be easier for him in the future to reach for that door if he isn’t carrying any shame.
We had visitors from out of town last week that have known him for many years. This couple has raised simply awesome adults from what were sometimes awful teens. It was pointed out to me during their visit that what W. talked about was this amazing job opportunity he has lined up and how he wants to buy a car and that about his girlfriend. This is where he is right now. He is simply not at the stage of development where going to college is a priority to him.
If the good doctor’s “bone age” theory is correct, he has plenty of time for that.
I did put him on notice that he has to get his license and make the call to formally interview for the job. College kids get to live at home, I told him. An 18-year-old not in school has to get an apartment, I told him.
We will take it slowly but not too slowly. If I had insisted on carrying him forever he would never have learned to walk.
More from parenting