When I was raising my sons, I had one guiding principle: teach them to be people that I would like to call friends. I figured that, since I’m a nice person with fairly good manners and a decent work ethic, I tend to like nice people with good manners and a decent work ethic. Of course, I also like people who interest me and who have thoughtful, thought-provoking things to say.
I demanded that they be kind, no matter what their interactions with people. Unfortunately, they didn’t always run into other people who had been taught to be kind. So I taught them what I knew from growing up bullied: you can’t stoop to their level. You hold your head up, work hard, and make your success the sweet answer to their lousy behavior.
I encouraged them to think for themselves and to not accept anything at face value. They are very intelligent young men, as are most who choose to be so, and so they can recognize the difference between a good idea and a bad one. Does that mean they always make the best choice? No. But they recognize their mistakes and learn from them–at least I hope so!
They are friends, but they are not alike, and I am glad to report that each has followed his interests and become something of an authority on what he likes. This makes them both very interesting to talk to, and I find that I learn as much from them as I ever taught them.
I gave them their father as a roll model for what a man should be like. Honest. Hard-working. Loyal. Responsible.
As a disclaimer, I must say that for all of my good intentions, the fact is that I came up short on the mothering front in many ways, and they have turned out as well as they have rather in spite of me than because of me, but that’s okay too. They were always fed and clothed and above all else, they have always been loved. If I let them see Lord of the Rings a little too young or eat a little too much of their candy on Halloween night, perhaps I can be forgiven.
All of this is not to brag on them–though a mother can be excused for doing so–but to say that of late, as I have talked to them on the phone, I have been struck by what good conversationalists they are and how interesting I find them. They are my good friends, now that my days of carpools, team moms, and fund raisers are in the past, and I am so proud of the men they have become. As our relationships continue to evolve, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for them both.