on teaching fiscal responsibility, and on saying goodbye

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A few days ago, we watched our son's old Honda Accord being towed away by its newest owner. The car had come into our son's life with more than 100,000 miles on it. It had left with some 112,000 miles total. He'd had it for seven years. He'd love it, like most guys (and girls) love their cars.

So had we. That silver car with the fancy spoiler had gotten him back and forth to his jobs, his internships, his last year of high school, his friends, his hang-outs. The ole '98 was never out of fashion, sported a single bumper sticker, could not be heard complaining about its arthritic passenger side door, was always there, through every holiday, every coming home, to take him somewhere he wanted to be.

It had kept him safe.

It hurt to watch the car clanking away, on the back of a truck. It signaled the end of many things.

I wept a few tears.

But sometimes we have to trade out nostalgia for life lessons. We have to weigh the pros and cons, the realities and dreams, and decide. Our son is a now a New York City, basement studio, great-first-job-but-oh-is-the-budget-tight guy. He has learned, because he has had to, how to track expenses, how to make responsible choices, how to not do this in favor of later doing that. These are the lessons he must learn, and must learn on his own. It'd be easier, often, to fly in there as his white knight-ess, to paper over gaps, to fill the piggy bank.

That short-term give would feel great to both of us.

But what would it yield, in the end?

It was time to sell the car. The few thousand dollars that it netted would help preserve a dwindling savings account, help pay the increased rent, help save the day for a little while more. The money would be his—earned by a choice that he had made.

He drove the car one final time.

He said goodbye, and then we did.

One more hard, essential lesson on the road to independence.


Elizabeth Mosier said...

Lessons well learned! Bravo to J.!

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