31 January 2005

Single...With Children: A Teenager Shares A Pint

Single With Children: Choosing selfless act sign of growing up

By Susie Parker
Publication Date: 09/22/04

My son's bed is never made.

How many times have I had to remind him to clean the cat litter and feed the dog and still he forgets on a daily basis?

Taking out the trash apparently requires a formal invitation.

If you happen to be the parent, single or otherwise, of a teenage male, does any of this sound familiar? Or is my son just "special"?

I was at my desk when Justin popped in the other day and sat down with the pensive look of a young man who had something on his mind. It was the old "I want to tell you something, but I'm going to make you work to find out what it is" look.

I took the bait.

In May, Justin shocked me by announcing that the bloodmobile was going to be at his school and that he had signed up to chip in a pint. Of course, I swelled up with pride until he went a little further and told me that by doing so, he would be allowed to skip third and, should the line be extra long, possibly fourth period.

I'll admit I felt a little deflated after learning his primary motive, but I still let him know I was proud, even if his participation wasn't for the most altruistic of reasons. I congratulated him and pointed out that his donation would have a personal, positive effect on someone else's life.

So when I started prodding him for clues, he finally told me he had received a call from the Red Cross requesting that he make an appointment to donate another pint of his rather rare type of blood.

"What did you tell them?" I asked, trying not to offer my opinion, hoping he would tell me that he had instantly agreed.

"I told them I'd think about it and get back to them."

I held my tongue, but it took a lot of effort. I wanted so much to give him a lecture on why he should call them back immediately and ask for the first available opening. I wanted to offer a thousand reasons why he should say "I'd be honored and thank you for asking!" I wanted to launch into what would have sounded like every public service announcement ever broadcast on behalf of the Red Cross.

"What do you feel like you should do?" I asked, trying to sound nonchalant and inquisitive without being too parental.

"I'm not sure. I'll let you know."

And with that he walked out of my office. I sat there wondering what I could say that might inspire him to do the right thing. I couldn't make him say yes and, even if I could, he would resent me AND the Red Cross and probably never entertain another thought of donating blood again.

The following Monday, he casually said he would be a little late the next day because he had an appointment with a vampire. I realized this was his way of letting me know he had decided to donate his blood after all.

This time, I had to hold my tongue for a different reason. I realized that, just as he didn't need me to implore or beg him to say yes a few days earlier, he certainly didn't want me to gush all over the place about what a great decision he had made, but I think he felt my admiration and respect.

When he finally got home the next day, he was standing a little taller and looking rather pleased with himself. I may have been prohibited from gushing, but apparently the nice nurses who assisted with the bloodletting were allowed to say all of the things I was thinking and I don't think he minded their attention and fawning. He was told it was quite possible that more than one person would benefit from his generosity and how wonderful it was that he had agreed to share some of his very specific type of blood.

A couple of hours later, he again walked into my office and asked me to make a note on the calendar that he had an appointment for Nov. 10, and would I please remind him that he needs to be back at the Red Cross to make another deposit at the blood bank. No big deal, he said.

Yes, big deal, I thought, as I tacked the red and white card on the bulletin board above my desk.

This son of mine seldom makes his bed, sleeps in a room that often requires a path to be cleared, and still forgets to take out the garbage without five reminders; yet, without a word from me, he did something right and wonderful.

Thanks to a simple phone call from the Red Cross, Justin learned there are some essential things in this world that money cannot buy and some scientist in a lab cannot create, which might require a small, selfless sacrifice, and that being privileged to offer something as unique and personal as a pint of life, is a pretty nice feeling. So is having a son who makes deposits to blood bank.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

Click here to return to story:

© The Amarillo Globe-News Online

No comments: