By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
Parenting young adult children is a whole new experience. If you think parenting and protecting children from birth through the teen years is tough, look out for the twenties.There’s a huge difference between being invincible at twenty and cautious at mid-life. I’m definitely in the cautious at mid-life stage when it comes to my kids.
I recently wrote about my youngest son, Sam, shattering his kneecap, after falling full-weight on his knee, when a door frame pull-up bar collapsed. Since then, he’s had his first of who knows how many surgeries. His knee is now wired together.
After a long, painful process to become as mobile as he is currently, he is allowed to put weight on that leg. That means he’s moved from wheelchair to crutches to what the doctor calls peg-legging around his college campus. He still can’t bend his knee although his brace can be adjusted for bending further as his scar tissue breaks down and allows for more movement. He’s in physical therapy to speed up the bending process.
I set the scene because I’m sharing a video clip that boggles my brain and that of several of my fellow parents. Sam loves climbing, perhaps more than anything. When he was home from college recently, he walked by me and said, “Mom, I’m going to climb a tree.”
I think, He’s such a kidder. I went along with him saying, “Ok. Have fun.” Out the door he went.
Did I realize who I was talking to? Thinking one of my daredevils was joking. Nope. He was serious. While I went on about my business, Sam’s father took out his cell phone and followed him, assuming Sam might be serious and therefor planning to be nearby if anything exciting happened. Good plan, as Sam used only his upper body and arm strength to climb a rope he’s climbed too many times to count, up into the tree. Then he swung limb to limb to get down to a low enough height to drop. I only knew about this later when I watched the video.
Remember, he’s twenty. Not an easy age to put in time out for doing something dangerous. Since showing different people the video, opinions are split, smack dab down the age continuum.
Fully grown, older sensible, cautious adults said things like, “Wasn’t he afraid he’d get hurt?” or “Oh my gosh, ya’ll could have been starting all over. Weren’t you terrified?”
I said, “What if his hand got a cramp or like his brother and sister, what if his shoulder popped out?” (His triplet sister, Sarah, is also in physical therapy to tighten up a formerly dislocated shoulder. See her in the photo above and note I’m wearing my orthopedic boot. Our Christmas picture? No. Refer back to blog posts: “Of Course I’m Wearing an Immobilizing Boot. Isn’t Everybody?” or “Mom, Where should The Ambulance Take Me?” if you need a refresher.)
Young adults, being his friends and siblings, said, “Go, Sam!” or “That’s so cool.” Or, “Don’t worry Mom. Sam’s smart and super strong and he’d never do anything to hurt himself. He knows what he’s doing.”
Those words came from his triplet brother, Joe, also obviously age twenty, who acts like a stunt man himself much of the time doing crazy flips and jumps. Joe is currently wearing a sling and is in physical therapy also, since his shoulder surgery to prevent further dislocation. He’s away at college too, so all I can do is pray he’s wearing his sling and playing video games to stay occupied and safe.
Parenting young adults is a whole new ballgame. Part of that empty nest phase where you realize you are not in control when they’re away. Oh my. Be still my heart.