Monday, February 09, 2009
*UPDATED Being a bitch or encouraging self sufficiency?
I can’t decide which I am doing right now. Oldest son called from college in a panic this morning. He lives off campus and his car is “broken”. I don’t know diddley about cars so for me to describe it would be as effective as me trying to explain how tons of jetliner can stay up the air without falling. So…I won’t go into that part of the story but here is my question…well, I will get to the question in a minute, first I need to lay some foundation. Oldest son has a bit of a worst case scenario personality. If something is wrong, in his interpretation it is REALLY wrong. If he is sick, he goo*gles till he is sure he has malaria. This is not a good trait unless he applies it towards his classes and then it makes him a fabulous student. He wants to succeed so he does. I have mentioned before..he is freakishly bright and that is not just a proud momma talking. Anyway, he calls telling me in a somewhat frantic voice that his car is his “life line” and how can he possibly “survive” without it. (I casually mention that the university shuttle does travel down his road but that was met with “it doesn’t go by all the time, only about once an hour”…to which I think…..yeah, so sit your butt down and wait for it like a regular person….but he isn’t a regular person. He is a man with a plan and doesn’t like diversion. He lives for structure and routine. So, he calls the local Ford dealership (mistake #1 son, don’t ever call a dealership…they are very expensive) and makes an appointment for today and wants me to come to university town to follow him there with his “broken” car then take him over to university and wait till he finishes classes at 5, return him to the dealership to pick up the car, ohhhhh AND pay for it too. I almost fell for it without even thinking. He is my child that I would walk on the hottest coals for (I would walk hot coals for the other two as well, but they don’t have the same exacting personality as oldest does and they go with the flow whereas oldest has a very low threshold for stress and needs more structure in his day/life. I decided as I was showering to leave that I would call the dealership myself and see what they had to say. They informed me that running the diagnostics would be $114. THAT IS BEFORE ANY ACTUAL REPAIR/LABOR WOULD EVEN COMMENCE. I about crapped. I took it upon myself to call a local car repair place in university town and he told me they charge $65 and if they can tell what is wrong by popping the hood, they wouldn’t charge the diagnostic fee. Sounds good to me. I called oldest back and told him what I had done and that he needed to call local repair man and make an appointment there. I intervened but still made him do some legwork. He called me back and told me they couldn’t fix it till Wednesday and good lord, today was only Monday…he may just shrivel up and die by then. How would he get groceries? How would he eat dinner? How would he take out this new girl he has been seeing? The intelligent person in me wants to tell him to suck it up and deal with it. Shit happens. That is exactly what I would do if this same event happened with the other two boys. So I am straddling the fence here. How much do I help? How much do I let him figure it out without stressing him out to the point where he can’t study? Since I am working from home, BigD and I could share one car for a few days so I am thinking about letting oldest use one of our cars. This would be a lot easier if he were at a school too far away to even consider this, but he is about 45 minutes from here. What do I do? Be honest, I need some real people thoughts here. At age 20 should I still be intervening or telling him to figure it out? * Well the world hasn't collapsed around him. I already knew what I had to do, it is just hard to let go and let him handle things. Ironically he is very mature for his age in most areas but some, the ones that change his routine or cause him inconvenience, set him off. He worked part-time for 2 years in high school to buy his car (it had 140,000 miles on it when he got it two years ago) so it means quite a bit to him having his own wheels, plus living off campus means a little extra hoofing to get around. He ended up taking the car to the second place, leaving it there and catching a bus to class. He is annoyed but dealing with it. Hopefully he will have it back by midweek and it will be one more thing in his 'I took care of it myself' column. Thank you all for the smack upside my head reminding me that my job really is to let him learn and keep an arms distance. As for helping him pay for the repair, it is something I really need to do. He is taking an accelerated program at school and really doesn't have time to work with his class load. He is trying to graduate in 2 1/2 years instead of 4....so mom will type a little faster for a couple weeks to help him out.