Thursday, 16 May 2013

Raising a Boy. Flying by the Seat of my Fanny Pack



I recently watched a movie I have been looking forward to seeing since Christmas.  I watched Barbra Streisand, as a middle-aged mother, take a road trip with her adult son, played by Seth Rogan.  I had hoped to see it with my adult son, Kevin. However, we could not coordinate our schedules this winter.  I am tempted to belabour this point with sighs, and just dwell on how much I had looked forward to seeing this with my son.  Blah Blah Blah.  I could remark on his busy life and the finite amount of time he has for his mother.  When he reads this, and he better, he might feel badly, maybe even guilty.  We Catholic mothers know how to dish it out.  However, this is not my parenting style.  I try whenever possible to understand that my children have lives to live and fortunately I feel I fit in these lives nicely.  To play this card would also suggest that I learned nothing from this movie with respect to Guilt Trips.   Also, to be perfectly honest, I was the one away all winter, so as our youngsters say "my bad".

The Guilt Trip (Bilingual)I was about 30 minutes into the movie when I realized that I was relating to the role of Seth Rogan, as the child on a Guilt Trip with his mother.  I reflected on a road trip with my mother.  We would have a nicer car than Latifa and I would drive, unless we were going to the golf course, church or a doctor's appointment. I would have my mother as a captive audience.  With 3 sisters, I often fight for the floor.  On a road trip, I would have the talking stick.  Of course my mom would say, as all mothers do, "Jan, drop the stick and put 2 hands on the wheel".

After this 30 minute fantasy of my perpetuating youth, I gave myself a shake.  "Wait a minute!  I am the mother here!  I am Barbra Streisand.  When did that happen?"  It just reaffirmed that I have a bit of skewed perception of my age.

This movie spoke to me as a mother of a boy  It is a different relationship than I have with my daughters.  In
Kevins' Favourite Book
some ways I just find it less complicated. He likes me and I like him.That about says it all.  I try not to tell him what to do.  Even as a child I was hesitant.  Kevin is a bit of a Contrary Bear.  I have to be aware that if I speak to loudly, it is likely he will do the opposite of whatever I suggest, including knitted gloves vs real  mitts when downhill skiing. He did admit to me that he and his friend agreed  "I hate when she is right".  This makes motherly-manipulation a bit difficult.  He knows me too well.  None the less, we both survived his teenage years with only a few piercings and a few missed haircuts.  He skipped the "unfortunate tattoo choices".  As far as I know.

Young Kevin and Young Mom
I never really expected to have a son.   I have 3 sisters and no brothers. The 4 Wells Girls spent our childhood with people commenting on their pity for our father.  I think Bill Wells did ok, though, with his 4 kittens.  Neither he nor my mother, ever let on that they were the least bit dismayed at the arrival of each baby girl.  In fact, when Katelyn was born in 1988, she was the first grandchild.  Someone asked my Dad what he thought about another girl.  He replied "What else is there?"  I know I spent the first few days of Kate's life feeling smug that I had scored a girl and I felt somewhat sorry for those who had given birth to boys.

So when Kevin was born, the Wells Family was a bit shocked.  We just weren't really sure what to do with this little boy. His Auntie's found him to be quite a novelty. The O'Rourke family was not so thrown by the arrival of a grandson.  Derek has 2 brothers, along with a sister, so a boy was not such a rarity.  I know I spent the first few days of Kevin's life feeling smug that I had scored a boy and I felt somewhat sorry for those who had given birth to girls.
Baby Kev - rocking that Speedo

Bridget broke the tie and we accepted her despite the fact we had been assured by all who knew, that she would be a boy.

So I guess I understand what my mother has always said "you are just happy with the baby you have.  You don't feel disappointed and want the baby down the hall instead."

Well, back to my Guilt Trip.  Once I figured out that I was the mother on this road trip, I started watching dynamic between Barbra and her son.  In comparison to my girls,  I don't think I embarrass my Kevin the same way I embarrass my daughters.  My fashion faux pas seem lost on him.  He does not cringe when I wear my famous, self-proclaimed "trendy" fanny pack.  He knows I am challenged with a tendency to " misplace" things, so a fanny pack is essential when I go anywhere with anything more than 1 car key. I think he understands this because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  However Kevin is growing out of this stage. He has yet to lose his ID, but I suspect this is because he needs it to buy beer.

For the most part I saw the everlasting drive to give advice to our adult children, regardless of their age.  As children, it is appropriate to guide.  It goes from "don't pick your nose" to "keep your manners in your pocket" to "two hands on the wheel" in a blink.  Now as "adults" I try not to be heard too loudly.  As a dear friend says "I neither promote nor discourage".  "Mmm Hmmm" is my mantra. My children are at a point when they own their consequences, so I take a bit of a back seat now.  However, I guess I sat back a bit too far with daughter #3, when I recently forgot to tell Bridget not to put a pot in the microwave.

 I do not give fashion advice.  How can I give fashion advice when I wear a fanny pack.  All credibility is lost. I even took fashion cues from the girls, until Roots sweat pants were replaced with hip-hugging yoga pants.  Now that is just not pretty.  I have learned to say "you look great", unless my children's clothes are torn (unintentionally), visibly filthy or reveal parts of their body that are not supposed to be seen. I had to step up this morning though when Bridget was dressing for her first day as a Nanny.  She looked pretty tanned and svelte and just a little too young and attractive.  I explained that the last thing the mom or dad want is a hot looking Nanny.  I suggested that she try a baggier shirt, with sleeves. I suggested that this was not the time to look fashionable.  I suggested that she try to look a little frumpy and plain.  Of course this was the point when Derek suggested that she should go look through my closet.  No one has seen him since.


Now the movie Guilt Trip shows the ins and outs of a mother/son relationship being put to the test with a cross country road trip.  Mom thinks it is her son's desire to spend more time with her.  Son's motivation is to reunite his mother with "The One that Got Away".

 I completely enjoyed this movie.  It was the kind of film that I thought about for a few days after. I am not suggesting that everyone would relate to it as I did.  It made me contemplate my relationship with my adult children. I am pretty sure our road trips will be limited to Orangeville / Toronto for now.  This is okay as I do not expect to have to  travel across country in pursuit of The One that Got Away. After Derek's comment today, I hope he is sitting patiently, all tied up and waiting for me to call.











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