“Aren’t you supposed to be at school?” I asked my 20-year-old son who attends Le Cordon Bleu.
He looked up from his video game and responded, “Uhhh, no. I don’t have school.”
I didn’t question it. In between class sessions, he usually has a couple days off.
A few days later, I got home from work and found my son and his girlfriend hanging out at my house. “Why aren’t you at school?” I asked, puzzled.
His girlfriend gave him a look and said, “You haven’t told your mom?”
What he had failed to tell me was that he’d dropped out of school. With only a few more weeks to go to earn his associates, he had decided to simply stop.
What makes a person just stop, especially when they’re so close to finishing? I thought he had found his passion in cooking. I thought he had settled into a career he enjoyed. I just couldn’t fathom why he would quit.
After some lengthy discussions, I persuaded him to go back and get his degree. If he had changed his mind about wanting to be a chef, that was fine. He’s 20. He’s entitled to change his mind, his major, his career. But I felt like he had quit, not just changed his mind. So he re-enrolled to finish up and get his degree, but, unfortunately, a couple weeks in, he quit again. I threw my hands up and resigned myself to the fact that he would be 45 years old and still living at home in my basement.
Fast forward a couple months and he is now enrolled at the community college, with hopes of pursuing a career in the medical field. The kid is brilliant. I know all parents say that about their offspring, but he really does have an impressive natural ability. He’s always scored off the charts and has been in special classes since elementary school. How he chooses to utilize that intellect is another matter entirely.
Regardless, he’s very intelligent and I have no doubt that he can do anything he puts his mind to, if only he could actually stick with something long enough to finish it.
I guess I take a “que sera, sera” attitude to parenting.
I believe that things have a way of working out in the end. I have neither the time (I’m a working single mom of six) nor the desire to micromanage my kids. Some of my friends don’t understand my attitude. They insist that if it were their child, they would force him to finish.
But really, how do you force a 20-year-old to attend school? I can’t exactly carry my 6’3″ son out to my car and drive him to school, and I will never be one of those parents who kick their kids out of the house to fend for themselves if I don’t happen to agree with their choices. Besides, if they hate school, what good does it do to force them? Oh, believe me, there’s a part of me that wants to tell him what to do and how to do it, but I know, firsthand, that never works.
My son loves learning, but he gets bored quickly and will move on to the next subject that fascinates him. Maybe he’ll enjoy his classes this fall. Maybe he’ll continue to work toward a goal. Maybe he’ll quit again. Maybe he’ll decide that traditional school isn’t for him and he’ll travel around the world, learning. Maybe he’ll join the circus. Who knows? It’s his life. He’s the one who has to live it the way he sees fit.
I had the opportunity to talk with Diane Nunez, mother of 19-year-old professional race car driver, Tristan Nunez. Although I was interested in learning about how she supported her son to be a professional driver from such a young age, I was absolutely fascinated to hear about her other son, Dylan, Tristan’s twin brother.
Dylan is a globally ranked tennis player who had been awarded a scholarship to play tennis. We’re talking a free ride at a number of prestigious schools! But instead of accepting an offer to play tennis (a sport to which he’d devoted his life), he announced to his mother one day that he wanted to be an actor.
Can you imagine having a child who had just received a free ride to the university of his choice and the opportunity to play the sport he loved? Now can you imagine that child telling you that he’s throwing it all away to be an actor? I think most parents would absolutely lose their minds, right?
But Diane didn’t. Much like she supported Tristan’s passion of being a race car driver, she’s supporting Dylan’s passion of becoming an actor. But I wonder, how many of us have the ability to let go and simply support our kids without trying to direct them toward “the right path?”
How many of us realize that “the right path” is different for everybody?
So, I’ll support my son’s desire to pursue a medical career. At least this month. Next month I may be supporting another dream of his. And that’s okay. Because one day, when he has attained his dream, he’ll say, “I’d like to thank my mom for always being there for me, for believing in me, and for supporting me no matter what.” And that’s my dream.