I think I have mentioned before that our girls have turned 18. That happened in January and it’s April…I’m already over it! I think if I hear just one more time “I AM 18!” I’m going to have a conniption. I mean I’m not so old that I have forgotten how cool that feels. Actually it meant more in my time because I turned 18 in a time when you could then smoke, drink and vote at that point in your life so it carried a lot more weight. The connotations it had were very different. Not to mention the fact that atbthatbtime in my life, I also started college, was working and had moved out of home. Hey I turned 18 in December, graduated High school in May and was gone! And though I remember my Mother saying I could always come back home, which was an awesome thing to hear, I never did…even when there was a time or two I might should have. Nope. I was in my mind grown, and was responsible for myself, for what I did and was about as self sufficient as I knew how to be. With what I like to think was a good dose of common sense, a good upbringing, more good choices than bad choices under my belt and a little luck, I was able to go through into adulthood and not look back; though as I say it was always a comfort to know I could have. So for me that’s what 18 looked like. I made my own decisions, I listened to my parents input and though I may have not followed them on everything, I like to think I always listened and gave them the respect they deserved. My husband, also a first born self reliant type, I’m sure came at 18 much as I did. He put on his big guy pants and did what he needed to do. He worked his way through school; his parents didn’t give him extras, they couldn’t afford to do that. They had 5 kids and a modest income. They provided, on very little money, and though he isn’t perfect, my husband turned out pretty good. Neither of us ever had the talk from our parents that we are about to have to have with our girls, a little thing I like to call “what 18 is and what it isn’t”. Whether or not they stay or go at this point in their lives, we feel it necessary to enlighten them. We’ve more than been made aware of their view of this milestone in their lives, it is time they are made aware of ours.
Here goes. Eighteen is about pulling your weight. It is about helping and pitching in to take care of the place in which you live. And oh, without being asked. It is about listening just as much if not more than talking. It is a time to learn and explore. It is the time when you start to do things that have bigger consequences; some of them can be long term and life changing. It’s a time then to really think about what you do and say. You are just starting to build your reputation, to figure out who you are and who you want to be. It is, or should be, a time to appreciate what has been done for you to get you to the point in your life where you can go out and make your choices, and to remember those who did that for you. It is a time to maintain relationships and forge new ones. It is a time to stretch your mind, think about what you want to do and in what direction you want to take your life. You are probably going to do things you know better than to do and probably you’ll not do all the things you know you are supposed to do. Those “supposed tos”came from Parents, other family members, teachers, preachers, bosses, mentors, those you looked up to. Your inner voice hopefully starts to guide you and let you know when you’re doing good and when you aren’t. You’ll make mistakes and that’s ok, you’re supposed to. It’s a time you learn a lot from those. Eighteen is an amazing time and a responsibility. Eighteen is two times nine and half of 36. I’ve seen their 9, I wonder what their 36 will look like! My Dad told me once that after 18 everything starts to go faster and faster till one day you stop and realize you don’t know where the time went. One of several things Dad was right about.
Here’s what 18 isn’t. It isn’t a license to just do what you want without regard or consideration about the impact that has on others. It is not a free ride to continue to eat, sleep and everything else free of charge, then not even take the time to say thank you or act like you even realize how good you have it. It isn’t a pass on making an effort to get or make your Parents or siblings or Grandparents a card on their special day or days. It isn’t time when I will continue to prod you about things like sending thank you cards and to acknowledge when someone else is having a special occasion. It’s doesnt mean that it’s ok fir you to just stop those activities just because the social graces are no longer spoon fed to you. It’s your reputation and it isn’t ours to float any more. It isn’t a pass to hoard all your money and expect that every little thing your heart desires will be provided for you. Eighteen doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you have the maturity you lacked the day before your 18th birthday. Eighteen isn’t continuing to leave a trail of crap behind you expecting that others will just clean up your mess. Eighteen doesn’t mean you have a clue what you’re doing. It doesn’t mean you can continue to be self centered and thoughtless and that it’s ok. It doesn’t mean automatic forgiveness if you don’t ask for it. It doesn’t mean you can continue to live at home without giving common courtesies to those who continue to provide that home for you; such as hey I’m going to run out to so and so for a bit, see you later. That’s not hard nor is it an infringement on your rights to be asked to do so. It doesn’t mean that you can continue to not experience the full consequences of your behavior; your buffers be gone!
Eighteen isn’t an automatic porthole to all that’s great and wonderful in this world, it is however, the gateway to the rest of your life. Like any start point, you can go a number of directions from it. As parents we just hope to get our kids that far; to have influenced and taught them enough so that they have the foundation they need to start their journey into adulthood. No parent I’m sure feels their child is actually ready to be 18. For reasons I have shared with you through my many posts, I have real concerns about the girls. I’m certain I’m not unique, lots of parents surely feel like that. Our girls have a good foundation. I don’t know how they are going to do. They are so different than we were at their age. More advanced in a few ways but far less self reliant, far less sophisticated, far less mature, far less patient and with a third of the social IQ we had. I love them and I wish them only the best. I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything though. I got to be 18 once, in my time. It’s their turn now.
It’s possible to feel happy and sad at the same time.
It’s possible to feel excitement and fear at the same time.
It’s possible to feel like you can’t take one more day with these kids and at the same time to feel them slipping away faster than you’d like.
Your kid’s 18 also represents a milestone for you as a parent. Our oldest son’s just sort of moved by me. I guess I had his sisters and the baby to occupy my mind so I didn’t feel the full force of it. When I figure out how to describe this milestone of mine…I’ll let you know! Ha!