Is there a tipping point where our children become our advisors--or at least the people making reasonable suggestions about how we should deal with some aspects of our lives? We aren't so old and frail that we need them to take over our check books or pay our rent. But some of us may have lost a step or two and the kids seem to notice.
In "Final Cut," a recent New Yorker piece by Calvin Trillin, Trillin reminisces about the years he, his wife, two daughters and various friends made ultra-amateurish, home movies together--writing scripts that were variations on the same story as the year before, casting the kids and friends against type, hauling out the same old props. All this took place at Trillin's summer home in Nova Scotia. But the more some things stayed the same--the house and its barn, the story line, the props--the more they changed, including the relationship between widowed parent (Trillin) and his now-grown children.
How do we deal with that ever-so-slight shift in our relationship with our grown children, a tiny tilt wherein they begin to act as our advisors and protectors as well.
Here's Trillin's take:
Driving through Maine this July toward the Nova Scotia ferry--past our favorite clam shack, past the outlets where we used to top up the girls' school wardrobes on the way back to New York in the fall--I was mindful of the fact that I wouldn't be making precisely that trip again. I had reached the age at which one's children begin sentences with the phrase "You are no longer allowed..."
...I’m grateful for my daughters’ concern, of course, and I’m grateful that they turned out to be the sort of people who remain good-humored about being referred to by me as “the nursing staff.” After some protracted negotiations with the nursing staff this spring, it was agreed that this would be the last time that I made the long drive from New York to Nova Scotia by myself, instead of taking a plane to Halifax and renting a car. "
Sometimes our kids come up with valued advice, just as we did when we were their parents. It's up to us to see if there's wisdom in their words--and admit when they're right.