I think most women would agree that when we become pregnant, we think that this child inside of us will turn out to be just like us. A “chip off the old block” as people say. We think about what this child will look like and all the things we are going to do as he grows. We don’t dream of this child doing anything that we wouldn’t do. That said; let me tell you the story of my 14-year-old son, Andrew.
When I gave birth to Andrew, my husband was so excited that he brought a toy football to the hospital. I know he pictured playing catch with his son in the yard for years to come. As he got older, he also bought him bats, baseballs, golf clubs, soccer balls; you name it, he bought it. But our Andrew never seemed interested in any of these things. What he was interested in, were lawn mowers!
Now this may have seemed odd at the time, but what was once an obsession, became an occupation. When he turned ten years old, he bought himself a lawn mower with his birthday money. He mowed our lawn and some neighbors’ lawns as well and he began to make and save money. This past summer, he had about eight jobs he tended to. He could walk to a few of them, but for the others, my husband had to fire up “Old Blue” or the “Beast” as I call it (a 1990 GMC pickup). The two of them would be gone for hours a few nights a week to do his jobs. My husband always let Andrew keep all of the money from the jobs, as he was just his “helper”, and because of Andrew’s motivation. Through all of this, Andrew has never asked us for any money to buy things. He uses all of his own money that he makes doing his jobs. He has learned responsibility at a very young age. He also has been playing guitar since he was seven years old. Music seems to be second nature for him, and because of this, the two of us get to be part of our church folk group. Music has always been very important to me, so I am glad we have at least one thing in common.
He loves the outdoors and other hobbies he has become interested in are trap shooting and hunting. My husband never had much interest in these but being the good father that he is, he takes Andrew to different clubs to shoot trap and skeet and took the hunter safety course with him. After all, he can’t just send him in the woods alone, right?
This past spring was my son’s first time out turkey hunting, and it was my first time dealing with two of the most important men in my life being unavailable in the woods. As much as I wanted to, I held back from calling them. You know, it’s not cool for your mom to check up on you to make sure you are still alive. I didn’t grow up with hunting so I was a nervous wreck. They went with an experienced hunter, who is a good friend of our family. This friend called in the turkey, and yes, Andrew got it!
He called me right after they came out of the woods and went to his uncle’s house in Cassadaga. I was worried about him and how he would feel after taking the life of this bird, as he had never done anything like that before. I’ll never forget that phone call: “Mom, I did it! I got him”. I said: “And how did that make you feel?”. He said: “It felt AWESOME”. That was it. I had a true, lifelong hunter on my hands, and this was only the beginning. I think this was the happiest day of his life, so far, and it felt wonderful to enjoy this with him, and to know that he called ME first!
Instead of having baseballs and soccer balls around my house, I was about to have turkey calls and camouflage! I learned that a “Jake” was a young turkey, a “teenager” as I refer to it. I learned that the male birds “strut” for the females. I learned that I still want to go buy my meat in the grocery store and not know where it comes from. I thank all of you hunters out there, as I don’t have that in me.
When turkey season was over, deer season began. Now we had to go from camouflage to bright orange. In mid November, Andrew was out with his dad and uncle and got his first deer. Yes, now in my house not only do I have turkey calls, camouflage, and bright orange clothing, I also have pictures of my son with his “trophies”.
So you see, our children aren’t always “Mini Me’s”. They come in their own packages and have their own ideas, and we are just supposed to know what to do to raise them. It’s too bad they don’t come with instructions!
I believe that it is our job as parents to support whatever path they decide to take, and we need to do this whether we are interested in it or not. My husband and I will always support Andrew with all of his new hobbies, but I don’t think I will agree to mount a deer head above the fireplace in my living room anytime soon; that is where I must draw the line!
Debra Field is married to Darren Field and is the mother of Andrew and Danielle. She also shares her home with her crazy black lab, Bella, and two cats, Princess and Taffy. Debra is a member of St. James Church where she sings in the Folk Group and is on the advisory committee for the YMCA Jets Swim Team. She resides in Jamestown and works part time.