With my first born, my oldest son, planning to retire next month, my thoughts keep turning back to episodes in his life.
One that stands out is the day Michael made the move to take charge of his own life. He was barely in first grade when he decided the dinner menu of ham, potatoes and cabbage wasn't to his liking. Since the complaint was new and the meal fairly standard in our family, I wasn't ready to prepare an alternate. He left the table, refusing to eat and went to the bedroom he shared with his younger sister. She followed.
Ken and I finished our dinner but I slipped down the hall to see what the rebellious pair were up to. They were packing-- only their toys, into shopping bags but still preparing to leave home.
I left them at their chore and went back to consult with the head of our household. We decided to let hem leave, but with supervision. We'd follow without letting them know.
When Michael reappeared, dragging his shopping bag filled to the brim, his sister right behind dragging her's, he announced, "We're going to go live with ?????." He's in my class. He gets off the bus right down the street."
I said OK and didn't try to stop them as the left through the front door. We left through the back and watched them moving slowly ahead through the dark. When they were distant enough our view wasn't clear, we got in our car and drove slowly along the quiet street, close to the curb and with our lights off.
They turned the corner and moved on. We had barely turned behind them when we realized they'd stopped and were standing still. We stopped to wait. When they didn't start again, we moved closer and I rolled down the window. An excited dog was barking a ferocious warning and they didn't know what to do.
We waited a couple of minutes and then pulled up. "Would you guys like a ride home?"
Mike answered, "Would you just take us past he dog?"
I thought about their bedtime, their lack of food and my chores yet to be finished. "No. We can't do that but we will take you home if you'd like to get in the car."
Melissa caved first and crawled in. Mike held back long enough to save face and then climbed in too.
When I look back at that incident, I realize it set the precedent for our life together. He was in charge of his life but he would compromise when compromising fit with his needs. I'm not sure I influenced him in many ways but he did turn out to be loving, generous, willing to give his best effort and a leader. I can't imagine that it matters very much now who the boss was while he was growing up.