Relating to My Boys as Adults #DadChat

Category: Weekly Columns

My son's first tattoo

Today I had lunch with my older son and dinner with my younger one. They are about to turn 18 and 21. Each meal was different because they are unique individuals but there was one similarity. Our interchanges were not a whole lot different than if I’d had a meal with a friend or peer. Amazing!

Buying a new car

All the passages we experience as parents are different. We are in the throes of heading towards both boys living outside of the home. Our oldest already does while our youngest is finishing up his senior year in high school with plans to attend college back east.

We are moving from California, where the boys were raised, to Park City, Utah next summer, so the boys will always have a “home” to visit but not the home or even the place where they grew up. My youngest son is NOT happy about that, declaring, “it’s not fair.” He’s upset that he won’t be able to come back “home” to hang with his friends during summers between college years.

Ahhh, “The Entitled Generation” rears its sweet head. He said, “It’s not fair,” I might add, with a fair amount of animus! I will confront him on that at a later date but that is not the focus of this column.

Funny photo of polar bear

My boys are grown up. Both have begun real and regular jobs, a first for my younger son and the first lasting one for my older son. These jobs are standing-on-your-feet classic entry-level minimum wage jobs. Both have expressed having very sore feet after their first days of work and being extremely tired. Yes! Welcome to the real world, boys.

So, my conversation with each son was much more along the lines of how much money they need to save (their question), future plans, comments and/or complaints about their respective jobs, and other such “adult” talk. Both boys are now my size or bigger/taller — just another factor in this evolution and growth in our lives.

Naturally, both boys drive so whenever we go out together usually one of them will drive (at my request because I prefer not to drive). That is also something that makes me smile and reflect upon, because now I get to text or check messages on my phone.

This is clearly a transition period for them and for me (and my wife). While there are still times when they act like “little kids,” those are fewer than before and the time when they “show up” like adults is startling every time it happens, which is more and more frequent.

The boys young and making faces

I look at them – at those times – and think, “Who are you?” I think, “Where did my whiney son(s) go?” Then, while not revealing a twinge of emotion on my face, I just continue with whatever it is we’re doing.

Both have well established their separate taste in entertainment, which is often a way for me to learn what’s going on today, since I encourage and like when they control the radio in the car. My younger son likes television series so he’ll tell me whichever is the new and cool one. He turned me on to “Orange is the New Black,” which I enjoyed though I have issues with its portrayal of so many unsavory and anti-hero characters.

Since each boy has considerably different music tastes, I get the avant-garde EDM music from my older son and get the more pop-oriented Top 40 from my younger one.

Bruce and his boys a long time ago

                             Was I ever that young? Were they?

I did my best to educate my boys – when they were still impressionable and could be “educated” – to watch classic films and when they were old enough I took them to classic rock ‘n’ roll concerts. They both fell asleep at the Bruce Springsteen concert at Dodger Stadium. I was so irked with Bruce because he started SEVERAL hours late making it impossible for my young boys to stay awake.

Later, my boys “took” me to see Green Day with “seats” on the floor. At that time, neither was tall enough to see above the sea of people, so they only really watched the big video screens and got small direct views when I alternately put each on my shoulders.

But, now they can put me on their shoulders! A stark example of this happened when our older dog, Simon, got sick. He’s had old dog vertigo, as the vet calls it, and hasn’t been able to walk well. We have to sometimes carry him out to do his business. When I’ve had to do it, I find Simon quite heavy. My younger son lifts him up the way I lift up our 8-pound pups – like it was nothing. Hello old man!

So far, I’m enjoying this change in my boys from kids to almost adults. When they start hitting me up for money, I may not enjoy it so much…

Tattoo

  • Nisha Varghese

    The transition is just as strange for the kids as it is for the parents 🙂

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Indeed it is, @nisha_varghese:disqus – great point! Later, when they take over my life, it will be ever more bizarre!

      • Nisha Varghese

        LOL!

  • ginavalley

    It is strange, isn’t it? My oldest is very much an adult. When I travel, he checks up on me and makes sure I have what I need, just like I did when he was a kid. My next 2 are not nearly as mature as he is now or was at their ages. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of my pack handles that transition!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @ginavalley:disqus – it’s the greatest ongoing real soap opera we’ll ever “watch!”

  • David Weber

    Very nice column.

    Good observations about the entitlement generation. To even suggest to you that you have done something “unfair” with respect to moving from Calif. to Utah is really the-world-revolves-exclusively-around-me magical thinking.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Would you mind telling him that @disqus_dU5ulU60s7:disqus ?!

  • Mike

    Great article showing how dads and sons are supposed to be. How great would it be if all Dad-Son relationships were this real and healthy?

  • Mike Smith

    You have the kind of relationship with your boys that is a model all dads should have. Involvement, caring, fun…wish it happened more often!