When Push Comes to Shove: Going the Distance for Older Kids

Sometimes when teens and early twenties are sitting on the edge of the nest, parents want to push them out. “You’re old enough now, just deal with it.”

Or parents pull away, thinking their older kids have it all together.

Nothing could be further than the truth.

This week’s post is about parents who went above and beyond for their older kids, when stepping up to the plate was the only thing to do.

Parents like Rose, who rescued her son’s instrument in time for the football game; Sandy, who helped her senior-year son get an audition tape made in time for a college deadline; and
Allie, who motivated her daughter to stay in college; and another mother named Vanessa, who went above the call of duty for a son stationed in Afghanistan.  I even have a story of my own. (Note: names have been changed to protect privacy.)

Sometimes things happen that are beyond a kid’s control. When Rose’s son was a college freshman and in the marching band,  he called to tell her that his instrument was broken and needed repairs in time for the football game.

Since Rose lived nearby, she swung into action.

“I had to go pick it up from campus, take it to the shop miles away, wait for the call from the shop, and then drive it back.”

She said the band was out on the field practicing when she got there. “I barely made it.”

Sometimes kids don’t need our physical help, but a sounding board before making an important decision.

Forgetting that can be a lost opportunity to provide mentoring.

I don’t know how many times our grown kids have called, asking us to read through a letter, or role-play a conversation before talking to their boss. From time-to-time they’ve called to discuss buying a new car or a house.

My nephew Paul is going through the angst of college admissions. Not only does he have to qualify academically, he needs to be accepted into the universities’ music schools. Last Thursday my sister-in-law called to tell me about his pre-audition recording. He nailed it, she said.

I stopped her midstream. “Wait a minute. You’re the one that needs to be congratulated. You made it happen.”

A single working mom, Sandy knows that going the distance often makes the difference between having a teenager who stays on track, and one who won’t even try.

One of the schools Paul is applying to required a pre-audition recording before they’d even consider him for a live audition.

His mother made all the arrangements: the venue, the piano accompanist, and the recording technician.

Everyone showed up and was ready to go – except the sound guy.

He forgot.  At least that’s what he said later.

That was a week ago last Sunday.

With only four days before the Nov. 1 deadline, everything had to be rearranged.

Sandy slipped into high gear. She got back on the phone with the venue – a small church – and set up the time. She called the pianist.

The sound guy convinced her he was going to show this time. (If he hadn’t, we’d probably be reading his obit.)

But the only the time everyone could meet was Oct. 31, at 9:30 p.m! Time was of the essence.

The digital recording needed to be made, attached to the application, and sent into cyberspace by midnight. It was Paul’s only chance of admission.

My nephew did great, Sandy said. Even the pianist was impressed.

And the sound guy? This time he had his act together.

Whether or not Paul gets into this school is really beside the point. I mean, I hope he does. But what will have an even bigger impact on his life is the fact that his mother didn’t let him down.

Allie is another mom whose commitment to an older child went above and beyond. When her daughter told her she wanted to “take a break” from college, Allie had major doubts. “I had taken a break 20 years earlier and knew where that led.”

Then her daughter made an offer, one she thought would get her off the hook. “She came in from work one night and told me she’d go if I go with her. She thought that would be her out.”

But Allie turned the tables. “I had her up at 5:30 and was at admissions by the time they opened.”

Allie also went to school with her son. “We were both training as EMTs for the fire department.”

She completed her certification for Advanced EMT, while her son continued on. “He has one semester left to be paramedic,” Allie said. her voice full of pride.

Vanessa stepped in to complete a mission for a son in the military. “When my 20-year-old was deployed to Afghanistan, he was a sniper.  The Army could not get him Kevlar gloves. You need these gloves or you burn your hands”

The soldier needed a size XL. Unfortunately, the army only had  S, M and  L.

Vanessa ordered two pair and had them overnighted to herself. She packed a box with goodies, including the gloves. He had it within a week. “To this day, five years later, I don’t know how the Army can’t have what their men and women need. It amazes me how many things our troops do without.”

I’ve done a lot of crazy things to help my kids, too. I even traded houses for five weeks in the name of advanced ballet training.

When I found out my younger daughter, then a college freshman, wanted to attend an intensive program half-way across the country, I ran an ad on Craiglist.

We ended up trading with a reading teacher who lived only one turnpike exit from the school.

The swap enabled my dancer-daughter to attend the intensive without having to pay for housing, which cost more than tuition.

My poor husband found some benevolent friends to take him in while I played cook, chauffeur and massage therapist to our daughter. We made it work.

As our kids mature, we let go. But sometimes we need to do all we can for them. We want them to have faith – not only in us, but in the human race. No matter how old they are. FFG



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