09 June 2005

Single...With Children: Publication Date: 8 June 2005

Susie Parker

Single with Children: Life's bumps taken for granted by some, craved by others

By Susie Parker
Publication Date: 06/08/05

I'll never forget the look of disbelief and joy on my son's face when he took the keys to his shiny, black Mustang a couple of years ago.

With a generous contribution from his grandparents, we arranged to have it in our driveway, cleaned up, detailed and sporting a HUGE red ribbon. Justin was about to become the proud owner of a car he had his sights set on from the time he was even aware that cars existed.

Switch into another gear two years later. Teenage boys grow up, and though he will probably always sport a Mustang heart, his goals have changed. With graduation, the taste of independence is beckoning, and two weeks ago he secured a full-time job to meet his growing expenses. Dreams of sharing an apartment with a couple of best friends requires money, and as he was told way back when he was 16, things like car insurance, gas and maintenance would be transferred, along with the title of his dream car.

Justin heard the sound of opportunity knocking, but it was holding hands with responsibility and some hard choices had to be made. While he was fortunate in securing a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage, he's learning paychecks don't always cover expenses.

Clearly, the price of driving a Mustang would preclude any plans of moving out and finding his own place. No matter what we're led to believe, there are times you simply can't have it all.

With a heavy heart, he sold the shiny, ultra-accessorized Mustang and now finds himself behind the wheel of a much more humbling conveyance with many years and even more mileage.

It's hardly a car that would turn anyone's head and the only statement it makes when it arrives is: "Wow, that beat-up thing actually made the trip."

The good news is the taxes and insurance are well below the stratospheric amounts that came with owning and maintaining a car that did turn heads and render anyone within earshot temporarily deaf.

I expected at least a few days of mourning - of bemoaning the cruel fate of approaching adulthood and the unfairness of life in general. Sometimes it's a fine thing to be proven completely wrong.

Justin burst into the house a couple of days ago holding the leather cover of a checkbook, the stub from his first paycheck and the wide grin of accomplishment.

He had stopped by the bank, opened a checking and a savings account and divided his earnings into both. He was beaming as he told me how much he was saving by downsizing.

What a huge life lesson: this business of sacrifice and independence. It follows us every step of the way until we run out of breath.

Every day I visit the special Web site of a young lady who possesses that grit and who knows more than any young lady should have to about steely resolve.

Her goal is a little more imposing than gaining post-high school independence.

Her focus involves the day when she won't have to be tethered to an IV with plastic bags of controlled poison that will hopefully help her reach the age where she has to make a few "tough" choices. It's not so much a question of what she wants to be when she grows up - she just wants the chance to grow up.

There are moments when it's the parent who needs a lesson in perspective.

Some moms and dads pray for the chance to see their kids grow up and experience the ups, downs and garden-variety harried moments that inspire gray hair and worry wrinkles - some of that "normal" brand of angst the rest of us take for granted.

John Wooden once said, "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

Many families dealing with kids in the grips of a catastrophic illness live that sentiment on a day-to-day basis.

If you're interested in learning more about a young lady from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who already has a cult following in many parts of Texas, take a look at the site of one Miss Julianna Banana: http://www2.caringbridge.org/canada/julianna/.

If you have the time, sign her guest book and check out the Pink Wish Bracelet Hall of Fame.

It would be nice to see some Amarillo names on her Web site "wall of fame" and to give the town of Pflugerville a little friendly Texas competition.

I'd love nothing more than for her parents, Mary and Terry, to have to deal with a few late nights pacing the floor as Julianna sneaks in 15 minutes past her curfew.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at SusieWrites@ec.rr.com, write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166 or visit her diary at www.susiewrites.blogspot.com.

Click here to return to story:

© The Amarillo Globe-News Online