Thanksgiving of 2009. My kids were home from school. It was my son’s first time home as a freshman in college and my daughter’s last time at home as a senior. I had plenty to be grateful for! My husband, Harry, and I had full blown “empty nest” syndrome for the few months prior and this Thanksgiving we were truly thankful!
Harry and I were also in the process of updating and perhaps upgrading our curfew rules for my son’s first visit home. Harry reminded me that now that Navin was in college and had already lived many a curfew-less nights, the old high school curfew of midnight would be a joke. In fact, he was pushing for the retirement of the curfew altogether! I, however, was not ready for it; after all, the “many college dorms have curfews, too” was my approach. “This transition of ‘child to adult’ should be slow and steady,” I argued.
On the very first night that my kids were home, they both had friends from high school stop by and it was great seeing them reconnect. The next night, my son went to visit some other friends in The Valley and texted me this at about 6:00 p.m.:
“Staying for dinner at Gruber’s.”
“K, great. Thanks for letting me know.” I answered.
At about 9 p.m., he sent me another text:
“Hanging out with the Trail Blazers (high school mascot). Don’t wait up.”
My daughter was busy studying for her upcoming finals and since she was on the quarter system, Thanksgiving was never a true break for her. Her finals were right after the holiday. I chatted with her for a while and as I kissed her goodnight, she asked, as if she was in my head, “So what time is curfew for Navin? Or is there one?”
I really didn’t want to answer her question because (a) I didn’t have an answer. It was still undecided, and (b) because she never needed one at his age (She was Miss Ultra Responsible) so we never really had been through this before!
“We haven’t changed anything so far and he hasn’t asked yet. So let’s see,” I said, as I walked toward my bedroom. A split second later, I felt a power trip overtake me and I turned back and said to her, with a wink, “He better be home by midnight!”
“Oh, Mother!” she said. “LETS SEE!”she mocked me, my own words back at me!
I smiled as walked to my room, wondering what decision my chidult (child-adult) would make on his own. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t expect him to follow any curfew, especially since we had not discussed it.
The Morning After:
Nitasha had her books spread out on the dining table by 9:00 a.m., ready for another study session. Navin walked in, all dressed and ready to hit the gym.
“Good morning, Momma,” his usual greeting.
“Good morning, love. How was last night?” I asked.
“Oh Mom, we had sooooo much fun. Andrew showed up. Snapper had just flown in. There were eight of us Trail Blazers and we just hung out and laughed and laughed. It was amazing!”
“What time did you get home?” I asked as I quickly turned my face toward the stove so they wouldn’t see me giggle. (I already knew when he came home! I was reading in my room until 12:30 while hubby was fast asleep. I walked out at 12:40 to check if my daughter was still studying since the family room lights were still shining into my room and she wasn’t there. She was in her room, out like a light, but she had forgotten to turn the lights off. Just then I heard the garage door open and knew that Navin was home! 12:45 a.m. Not so bad, I thought, as I snuck back into my room).
“Uh.. I was home by midnight, my curfew time. Right Tash?” he smoothly responded as he touched his sister’s shoulder and made “LIE CONTACT” with her.
Not even flinching and with her head still in her books, she replied, “Yup!”
My insides gasped for breath! I wanted to laugh and cry! Being the mother of a childult is never easy! I was being pushed to transition! He was almost 19. Was it even worth it? I knew if I treated young adults like children, they would push for freedom! I took a deep breath. Drank a big glass of water and heard myself saying, “Now that you’re in college, Love, and I do know you’re responsible enough, let’s retire your curfew. What do you say?”
He actually scooped me off my feet and swirled me around with a few hundred thank yous and said, “Just for that: I got home at 12:45 and Nitasha was not awake.”
“I know,” I told him matter-of-factly with eyebrows raised, “I’m yo momma!” We all burst out laughing!
The truth is that I did not know if he was responsible enough yet. I didn’t know if he made the right day-to-day decisions. I didn’t even know if he made it to class on time. What I did know was that it was time for me NOT to know it all or SEE it all. It was time to let go. It was time to just watch and stand by and to let him figure it out on his own, just as I had with my daughter. It was definitely a better option than having my chidult and my adult (she was 21 by now!) resort to lie contact!
What I also knew (which is probably the most gratifying part for all parents) was that my adult kids would stick up for each other when needed. Obviously, my daughter had put the curfew issue in perspective before I did and took her stance to support him. Knowing that they would be there for each other; now THAT felt really good!
To sum it up, LIE CONTACT between siblings might not be that bad after all, at least in this case!