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Jewish Journal

Motherhood 101: Gas Money

by Ilana Angel

December 19, 2013 | 2:57 am

I love my kid. Love him in a profound way that makes me marvel at the blessings I have been given in being the mother of this remarkable human being. My son is smart, funny, kind, gentle, aware, talented, compassionate, fair, open, handsome, and delicious. I marvel at who he has become, and as his 18th birthday approaches in a few weeks, I am amazed at how responsible and mature he is with money. To clarify, I mean with HIS money.

My boy can tell you down to the penny what he has spent his money on. When it comes to my money however, he is unable to remember anything. He goes through my money with no recollection of what he did with it, but his money is all accounted for. It really is rather fascinating. If I were to borrow 5 dollars he remembers the time I borrowed it and what I was wearing when he handed it to me, but has no memory of the 20 bucks I gave him.

My son is a senior in high school and does not have a job because I don’t want him to work. He goes to a very demanding school, commutes a long distance daily which makes for 10 hours days, and is a great student. I want him to focus on school as he will have his whole life to work. It is a choice I have made for him and one I am happy with. In the past few months however, I find myself thinking that this kid needs to get a job.

My child has his own car and I am thrilled that he is a responsible driver. He is cautious, pays attention to other people on the road, and is not aggressive. He is also a mensch in that he will always offer to drive his friends. I think if he were paying for his own gas however, he might not want to schlep his pals so much. I always tell him to get gas money from his buddies but he never does. He is offering his own free taxi service to his friends.

I am spending on average $200 a month on gas for my son. It is my pleasure of course because I get a lot of freedom with his driving. It is my joy to provide him with the freedom of a car, but not his responsibility to pass that freedom onto his friends. Now, they are great kids and when I read stories of what other parents of teenagers deal with I count my blessings and feel bad I am complaining about gas money when I am so fortunate.

That said, this kid needs to get a job if he is going to continue to provide a free schlepping service. Bless him. I have raised him to be exactly the kind of kid he is, but when I was raising him to be a mensch I didn’t stop to think about how much gas would cost when he was a teenager. He is never going to get good at asking friend’s for gas money and I won’t make him get a job, so all I can do is pray the price of gas goes down and keep the faith.

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