I joke around with my colleagues who have or fondly remember having little children. They have so many cute stories about what their kids say and do. Then they have discussions about when kids are at the “perfect” age.
“Oh, I just loved my babies,” a colleague of mine, who is now retired, used to say. “I just loved holding them and cuddling them.” I can still see her mimicking holding an infant and that expression of sheer joy on her face.
“I loved it once they could walk,” another replies. “Once they can move around with you and play in the grass. Crawling was such a difficult stage.”
“We like it now that our kids are in Little League,” a third chimes in. “Sitting around and talking to our friends while all the kids are either on the field or playing with each other is the best.”
That’s when I hold up my hand and announce, “I LOVE my 30 something age kids.”
And I do. They are past so many minefields. If you are lucky they have managed to make it through safely. More often than not mostly safely and that’s pretty lucky too! There are a lot of rocks on the path to adulthood and you just hold your breath until your kids get there. When they get near their thirties they are probably settled into a few things; marriage, careers, homes, lives! Marriage means someone else shares in the worry about them with you. Careers means they have figured out how to be self-sufficient. Homes signify a sense of responsibility, of building that life. Thirty something age children, in short, have lives that are their own.
But there is one more thing I love about having thirty something age children. It’s the reason I’m writing this post today. And it occurred to me this morning. My husband and I met our younger son, Shaun, for breakfast. We were talking about work. Our son is a floor layer.
“I can’t stand it when guys don’t want to work,” Shaun was saying. “They get in the way and try to slow a job down. They think if the job ends they’ll be out of work. I tell them, ‘Let’s get this job done so we can move on to the next job.’ But then I think to myself, ‘Yeah, but you’re not coming with me if I can help it. I’m not working with you anymore.'” He laughed his big laugh at that one and we laughed with him.
But all laughter aside, Shaun was right. He had heard us talk about the importance of giving it your all at work for years. It was so gratifying to discover our family values embedded in our grown son. Because it’s really all you can do for your kids. Demonstrate and talk about the things that are important to you and hope they listen. Hope they understand. Hope they take it to heart. Our son’s next story was even better.
“I was working with this new guy and we were waiting for some materials to be delivered. He started to walk across some freshly laid patch (a sort of cement/glue mixture) and I said, “Don’t do that!” “Why not?” he asked. “Because the guy just did all that work, he’s gonna have to redo it if you mess it up.” “So?’ he said, “Guys do that to me all the time.” Shaun went on to explain that the “victim” of the intended lack of respect didn’t speak English, making him an even easier target for this behavior.
“I just don’t understand that kind of thinking,” Shaun said, looking at us. “How does that make it right?”
“You know, Shaun,” I said, “one of my favorite sayings is, Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right.
Inside my head I was marveling over what it means to raise your children. They grow up watching you and learning from you. And one day you will find out what they learned. I was proud of our family in that moment. Proud of Shaun and in awe of how great grown kids are. They really are much more fun than the little ones were!