And when he wants, he can play hard too. Along with his large circle of lovely friends, some working full time the same as he, others part-time, juggling with Uni or college courses, as he also did from the age of 16. Burning the candle at both ends as we all did at the same age. You remember...oh, come on you do!...Not going out till 11pm and coming in at 6-7am still slightly drunk, it can't have just been me...Ah-ha, no, I didn't think so!
As is the norm, he has most of the 'must have' gadgets/techno material items, laptop, ipod, flat screen TV, x-box etc....Some of which have been bought for him by us, as birthday or Christmas presents, I'm not a believer in buying items willy nilly as and when they ask/demand just because all their friends have them. So they have all had to wait for, and on some occasions have even had to add any Birthday/Christmas money (mean mummy that I am!) to ensure receipt of said items. Others he has bought himself, with his hard earned pennies, just like everyone else.
When he first started full time employment, it was he who first brought up the subject of paying rent (mind you, only just before we did), asking 'How much do you want me to pay?' and after discussions, we thought 25% seemed a reasonable, realistic amount. Enough for him to be aware of his responsibilities in paying his own way, as is the way of the world. But not so much that he would decide he would rather live elsewhere for that sort of money (Erm...yes, of course I do want my kids to fly the nest, just not yet please). For that rent, he gets his laundry done, meals cooked, and most of the time sandwiches, stuck in the fridge the night before (I know, some habits die hard, sad but true!!) to take to work with him. But he does also try to do his little bit. He keeps his room tidy himself, I don't even go in there, he hoovers, changes his bed linen, brings his dirty laundry/cups/glasses down to be shoved into the washing machine/dishwasher.
So, to put it plainly, he's just your normal (!) run of the mill 21 year old still living at home.
Now, I'd guess, after everything I've just said, you're expecting me to go on some kind of rant about how ungrateful he is or some such, but you would be wrong....SO VERY, VERY wrong...
At 2am, early for him, on Sunday morning, Gorgeous Son walked into the living room, where I was lounging on the sofa, catching up on my 'Recorded' TV, carrying with him a takeaway bag of food & a can of fizzy drink. He sat on the chair opposite me and mumbled...
'...I feel like (mumble..mumble) '
'Pardon?' I replied, thinking, do I need to go and get a bucket?...'feel like throwing up' ?? I thought, maybe?? But he didn't look or sound particularly drunk.
'Feel like what?' I asked....only partly listening to him...
'I said, I feel like crying'
'What? Crying, why???' Now listening fully, frantically doing a quick visual check for any obvious injuries/black eyes or something...
At which point I patted the sofa next to me...'Come here....Why do you feel like crying?'
He moved from chair to sofa, and curled up, with his head on my shoulder, crying....real, full on shoulder heaving sobs.
Sob....'I've just watched a bunch of people, about my age,..sob...throwing chips & verbal abuse at some homeless guy, and...sob...I can't believe anyone could behave that way, it was just disgusting!' 'Why would they do that?? I don't understand how...how.. ANYONE can treat another human being that way'...sob... 'What is wrong with them??'...
'What! Oh sweetheart.. I don't know?' 'What happened, what did you do?!'
I stroked his hair, hugging him close, trying to comfort him.
'Hic...Well, I was just getting some food, and couldn't..sob.. really see what was going on, but there was some sort of....commotion going on outside, lots of noise, you know whoops & hollas and so on...by the time I'd paid for my food and gone outside...sob.... I only caught the last of it, there was this poor homeless guy, huddled on the floor, covered in chips, with a crowd, 'my age' running away, still flinging chips & abuse at him'..SOB
'Oh honey...what did you do?....by this point I was trying my hardest not to cry along with him. If I cried now we would both be blubbering wrecks, absolutely no help at all....
'Well..sob... I helped him up and asked if he was OK..and then I asked him if he wanted something to eat, and he said 'Yes please'..sob...'he said please!'...'He was so polite, Yes please,'... 'then I took him back into the takeaway & bought him a sandwich & a drink...HOW could they behave that way? they were like animals!!!...it was all I could do, it wasn't enough, he was SO grateful....but there wasn't anything else I could do, I felt SO, so awful for him, just a sandwich..hic...& a fricking drink!'...'I felt awful'
By now of course, I was silently crying with him, my hugs & hair stroking had gone up in proportion to his distress.
He'd bought a homeless guy a sandwich & a 'fricking' drink, yet felt guilt that it wasn't enough to make up for the disgraceful treatment he'd received.
He felt shame that people his 'own' age, didn't have the compassion or decency to treat another human as they themselves would wish to be treated.
...And I felt a wave of emotions fill my heart. Anger at some peoples lack of respect for others less fortunate than themselves, I wonder where are they learning these morals & values?!! Shock, that people, even if not wishing to help those same people, would actively ridicule & belittle them.
Yes, I do realise, some of this behaviour could be put down to 'youthful drunken' hi-jinks , but I don't remember behaving that way at that age, sober or drunk...nor do I believe Gorgeous Son or any of his friends would either....
I also felt sadness for the unfortunate, but, inevitable, erosion of my Gorgeous Sons belief & trust in human nature. Its one thing to read & see it all in the media, and to be aware of all the crappy stuff that goes on in the world (His Home page is BBC NEWS...he's a bit of an info junkie) and homelessness is an ongoing problem in Brighton, so he is more than used to seeing people sleeping in doorways, wrapped in newspaper & old blankets for warmth. But it's quite another to be confronted, face-to-face, with this type of callous, unthinking behaviour.
But, and I will admit (am I allowed to admit to this..??!?) another feeling was one of pride. ...I felt a HUGE amount of pride in the fact that my 6'2, Boy-Man Gorgeous Son (baby in my heart...as they always are) has grown up to be a most wonderful human being, and that I had some small part in it. I am proud of the fact that he felt that it was his responsibility, as one human to another to take part and at least do something to ease someone else's suffering..however small he felt his contribution was.
I told him, that I thought, although he felt 'it wasn't enough', that possibly his one small act of kindness may have gone a little way to restoring the 'homeless guys' faith in human kindness.
As no one person can 'do it all', we can only do what we can, when we can.
So, for all his funny 'obsession' with cardigans (He-he!). His enjoyment of his 'must-have' items, and quite rightly so, some of them he 'earned' himself with his hard worked for cash, this MAN (sob!) has a BIG heart. With a depth of compassion & kindness, which I always knew anyway, that he is not afraid to show, honestly, openly & painfully.
*This was his 'Status' on Facebook, 10 minutes after he left me....an emotional wreck on the sofa!