I asked a friend: When did you stop picking up the tab for your kids--for their flights home for the holidays [her sons and their families live on the other coast], for dinners out and for tickets to go to the movies. Her answer was definitive and simple: "When they started earning more than I do."
I was thinking about that on a recent weekend visit to Uber son. Usually we fly up on a Friday and my daughter-in-law makes dinner for us all. On Saturday we offer--come close to insisting--that we take everyone out for dinner. If the family is too tired or one of the Grands too restless to sit in a restaurant, Paterfamilias will go out and pick up take-out food. A fair enough division of labor and a nice balance of the costs of feeding a family of seven--five of them, two of us.
On this particular weekend, we flew up on Saturday. We were going to spend all day Sunday watching two of the three Grands play in soccer tournaments and then fly home on Monday. Saturday being Saturday, PF as usual insisted, cajoled, requested we go out for dinner. Everyone was in the mood for it and off we went to their favorite Thai restaurant. But when the check came, Uber son grabbed it. PF fought him for it. A friendly tussle but Uber son was adamant--and his arms longer. PF fell back to his second line of offense: Let's split it. But Uber son was having none of it--not even when PF made a dash for the cash register and tried to add his credit card to the one our son had proferred in payment.
We know we're supposed to let them treat us from time to time, to be graceful about letting them know they are growns up now. But this seemed awkward. After all, we had insisted on going out for dinner and now here was our son stuck with a dinner check for seven.
The saving "grace" came right after dinner when we drove over to ye olde ice cream shop and Uber son allowed as how the dessert treats were on PF. Reversal of fortune, and tip of the balance--or re-balancing-- between father and son.