When ‘Boy’ Becomes ‘Man’

My Favorite Domer (A.K.A. my son) celebrates one of those Milestone birthdays this week and since he says he doesn’t read my blog, I’m going to wax nostalgic.

You see, Domer is turning 21.

Legal. With all the privileges — and responsibilities — that brings.

For him.

For me, it brings a certain dash of worry.

By the time a “child” gets to the ripe old age of 21, a parent has had lots of opportunities to worry:

  • While Baby is still in the womb, we worry whether he will be healthy. Will he have all his fingers and toes? Will we be adequate in training up this babe in the way he should go? When will he sleep through the night??
  • As he goes off to school, we worry whether other kids will like him. Will he behave in class and respect his teachers? Will he ever learn cursive handwriting or multiplication tables?
  • Then comes middle school, and we continue to worry whether the other kids will like him. Will he be chosen last in P.E. class? Will he find bullies? Will they find him? In his eagerness to explore lots of different things, are we pushing him too hard, loading him up with too many activities and lessons?
  • As he enters high school, we worry whether the other kids will like him (yes, it’s kind of an ongoing thing!). Will he find a class that sparks his passion? Will he manage to juggle his courses and extra-curricular activities? Will he find work, at least part-time? Will he test well enough to get into college, if that’s his goal? Will he steer clear of the troubled kids and choose to be alone, if that’s what it takes?
  • Then he goes off to college and regardless whether it’s the place of his dreams, we worry. Will he adapt to dorm life, to life on his own? Will he zero in on a major and a career path? Will he eat enough, keep his clothing clean, get enough sleep? Will the other kids like him?

Unlike cars and home appliances, babies don’t arrive with a manual. Parents, especially first-time parents, often find themselves navigating uncharted waters when it comes to making decisions. I’m told it’s easier with number two and later, but I wouldn’t know; my guess is, if you’re conscientious, you’ll find it equally difficult, since siblings don’t necessarily come with the same set of abilities or personality.

Worrying just seems to be part of the parenting package.

And now that Domer is turning 21, it feels only natural for me to worry.

Will he get sucked into those drinking games where you take 21 shots in rapid succession, then pass out? Or will he be the responsible adult I know and drink sensibly? Will he skip classes as a present to himself? Or will he buck up to his responsibilities and celebrate afterward?

A 2006 survey at Virginia Tech University found that 72 percent of men and 65 percent of women don’t feel that getting drunk on their 21st birthday is a rite of passage. In addition, 95 percent of the women surveyed and 80 percent of the men didn’t attempt the 21 drinks.

That’s good to know. Because college is hard enough without trying to do it drunk.

Do you remember how you celebrated your 21st birthday?