On occasional Monday mornings I post excerpts from other writers--of nonfiction as well as fiction--that offer insights into the always-challenging and often-joyous business of parenting adult children. Today's is from novelist Elinor Lipman and her book of brief and mostly light-hearted essays, I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays.
As Lipman herself says, the descriptive word "nice" follows her. Based on her writings, so does a certain upbeatness. One of her favorite--if not her absolute favorite--authors is humorist Max Shulman (Dobie Gillis, anyone?). She quotes him as having said about his ability to write humor, "life was bitter and I was not." As any of us who read her novels knows, that line fits her as well. I Can't Complain is a series of short and shorter memoir-style essays about family and life.
Here is her commentary on her grownchild--her son was 23 when she wrote this about the difference between parenting young children and parenting the grown up version.
"One of the great joys of the grown-up child is seeing how the essential him or her was always there. Baby versions of likes and dislikes, talents, interests, and personality traits come home to roost in fascinating ways. ....I'm not pointing out in grandparently fashion that time flies, that your little ones grow up in the blink of an eye, so cherish every moment. You've heard them. This is me saying you have a lot to look forward to--not just the tuition-free, post-orthodontic, babysitterless side of parenthood, but the company it keeps: your grown-up child. My friends with small children have asked me, "What's it like when they no longer crawl into your lap? When the hugging and kissing get shrugged away? Don't you miss the baby?
Yes we do....But then the big boy calls, and the rosy glow changes direction to the here and now. Lovely surprises await you, too. A big strapping guy! A witty friend! A voter! A tech-support hotline! An adviser, a guide, a conscience.
A pride and joy."