And then they grew up some more. On his twenty-first, I remember my son organised his own get together. I was allowed to make a plateful of sandwiches, no more. And he made a fun cake with a decadent choc layer and bought a few packets of chippies. He'd booked a room at the pub for the evening. That was it. If his friends wanted a drink, they could go and buy one for themselves. I was scandalised but my son reassured me that was how it was done in his circle. And since many of his friends had turned twenty-one before him, I suppose he knew better.
Many of his friends were living at or close to university, studying for a degree and working at some job - a retail job as sales staff or hotel staff etc to pay for their education and day to day living. They were independent and cheerfully cash strapped. Some of them had parents helping them with college fees and the rent for their living quarters but not with their day to day living. Most of them had to manage rent, food and everything else. Why did they do it? By eighteen they felt the need to try things out for themselves. Besides, everyone else did it. (They still loved their parents and visited them as often as possible, make no mistake.)
The exceptions were our Indian kids. Almost all of them lived at home with their parents unless they'd come to study at the university from another city. Then they moved into quarters at the Uni and had their parents foot the bill for everything. This was definitely a cultural thing. We felt it was best for them to concentrate on their studies and not on money worries. That would happen once they started working full time.
What I did not realise was that our kids would want to move out and have a taste of independence too, just like their friends. I expected our son to but definitely not our daughter. She was our little girl.
When we moved to another city they did not come with us. Yes, both of them decided to stay back. Our son promised to look after our little girl. She was still in her teens. We were worried but couldn't help seeing the excitement in her eyes. We decided, with us not too far away and ready to catch them in a safety net if need be, perhaps this was the best way for her to spread her wings. Under her brother's wing! With a tight knot in our hearts we reluctantly let go.
They still did not have complete monetary independence but they learnt to pay their own electricity bills, to manage their own time, make the effort to entertain on a budget, manage their own bank accounts and do everything necessary to run a home. I am glad they gradually slipped into independence and not suddenly. Both of them took a year off studies to get work experience. (Many take a year off to travel. They call it their BIG OE or overseas experience.)
Coming back to gift giving, they've learnt to be circumspect. They feel it isn't right to be extravagant. They entertain on a budget - something simple - no five course meals. If they go out, each one pays for himself or herself. They seem to spend a bit on going for a show or a music concert or an art show. It is good to see them make these decisions for themselves.
What made me think of this today? It is my daughter's birthday.
Hope you like the gift, (dare I say it), baby.