"Just come home," I said. "It happens." I wanted to give him $60, but I know that in life, when you lose money you lose it, and your mom is not standing there to make it better.
It does. "I'm not carrying any cash any more ever," he said, and a few days later an envelope from Clipper showed up in the mailbox with his name on it. It's a card to pay for BART and the bus.
Then he came home late from the park. "I've been looking for my headphones for the last two hours!" he said. He has (or had) very nice bluetooth earbuds that everyone in my family pooled money to buy for him for Christmas. They are really, really nice, and he had them in his bag - along with the phones of all the guys he was hanging out with. They kept going in and out of his bag all day long, and somewhere his expensive bluetooth headphones fell out.
I was surprised. All through elementary school, B never lost a jacket or a lunchbox. He's had his iPod Touch for a year and a half and never misplaced it. I had no misgivings about him having these headphones because I had total confidence that he would not lose them.
These headphones are also important because they are our compromise at bedtime. I don't want him to have anything in his room that can connect to the internet, including his iPod. He wants to listen to podcasts as he falls asleep. The compromise is that the iPod stays in the dining room and he can listen on his bluetooth.
Now they are gone. "What did I do wrong?" he asked. He got that crazy, teary look in his eye. "What did I do wrong?"
Many, many, many times I wanted to say, "I'll just buy you more." I am making a ton of money these days, and more bluetooth headphones would not be a big deal. He is so distressed and I could make him feel better so, so easily. But I know that in life, when you lose something, your mom is not right there to buy you another one.
Even more, I know that buying him another one sets up the expectation that there might be someone who will just fix it for you when things don't go your way. There are plenty of young people in our office who act like that. They had parents like me, who had the means to just make it better any time something went wrong. They act entitled to accommodations they don't deserve. They expect everyone else to rearrange for them. Right here, at 14 years old, I see where that comes from and I'm not going to do it. Not even if it would be so easy for me to make B feel so much better with so little effort from me.