Again, I’ll mention that I’m not sure this “parenting” thing ever ends.
Sixty-four years old, kids (finally) out of the house, all of them either nearing or past 30, one grandkid in the mix, and, still, I have these moments.
The latest occurred during a recent trip that my wife and I took to visit our eldest son and his wife.
He has a great job, works hard, and is making a career for himself. She’s in her second year of residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center and is doing well.
In short, they’re both capable, smart, aware, and getting along just fine (without me, my wife would add).
Still, there come these moments when my brain ceases to function rationally, and I become, yet again, a parent tending his kids.
It began with a casual remark about paying off loans. I’d mentioned we’d just cleared away most of our bills when my son remarked that he was having trouble with one of his loans.
Pricked my interest is what it did, and I asked what was going on.
He told me that he’d set up his college loans on an automatic monthly payment plan and that he’d recently received a somewhat testy notice that his payments were now three months in arrears.
This was news to him (and to his bank — whose statement showed that the loan amount had been dutifully deducted and paid during the months in question) and, so, he called the loan granting institution and, after a bit of discussion, was told that “a mistake had been made” but, now, “all was well.”
He later received another more forceful notice that action would soon be forthcoming and told us that he’d also begun dealing with the problem in a more “forceful manner” that included a “paper trail” because it’s one thing any bureaucrat hates intensely — most especially when it shows that they’ve screwed the pooch.
It was about what you’d expect from a (unlike his dad) mature 34-year-old who had a serious outlook on life and a good head on his shoulders.
Still, I was just getting ready to launch into a lecture on just how to go about dealing with large bureaucratic institutions and the minions who worked therein.
I was about to, that is, until my wife gave me a look. Most men who’ve been married for a while and who have kids who’ve grown and started on their way in the world know that look — and, very wisely, pause when they see it.
It’s the one that says:
“Just keep your lip zipped and drop it. They’re both grown ups. They can handle it. They’ve been married for several years. They’re making their way just fine and have been doing so in Japan, Okinawa, Washington, and now New York. What they’re doing now is called ‘making conversation.’ They don’t need your advice and, if they did, they’d ask for it. So pipe down, stop squirming, and, if you have to say anything, just leave it at making one of your favorite comments about bureaucracies.”
All of that conveyed in one look.
She was right, of course, and later that night she reminded me of the electric bill we received in our third month of marriage when we were both about 23 years old. Said bill for $1,800 dollars nearly knocked the wind out of us as our normal bill had been somewhere on the order of $35 dollars a month and our take home pay at the time was about $400 dollars a month.
It took us a week or so, but we sorted it out, received a personal phone call from a representative of the power company who apologized for the error. She also noted that we handled this without any input or advice from anyone. In short, we figured it out for ourselves.
Which, apparently, is what our son and his wife have done since they’ve not mentioned the loan problem since.
Still, there’s this thing I keep noticing about being a parent. It never ends, does it? Even when they’re grown and gone.
Someone should warn us (especially us dad-types) about this when we first decide to have kids.
It’d help a lot.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: email@example.com