In June, the middle child finished high school. A week later, give or take, he started working – he has no desire to add to his education (at this point, though of course the future is open). He has spent the summer rather aimlessly – not working full-time, coming and going as he pleases, playing video games, and occasionally hanging out with his younger brother.
He is 18, believes himself to be an adult in the truest sense, and has been mostly amenable to the rules of the house – though his only contribution is unloading the dishwasher in the morning (most of the time). He shows up for some meals, is usually home by his curfew of 11pm (or follow the rule to let us know when he’ll be getting home). He doesn’t tell us where he is, or what he’s doing, or who he’s with.
Our family rule has always been that you are either in school or you’re working + paying rent – we’ve said it since the kids were little. So, yesterday we let the middle child know that he’d need to start paying rent as of September 1st. The rent is $300 – and covers his room, food (when he’s home for meals + whatever foods he lets us know he wants from the grocery store each week), laundry washed and dried, internet, water/heat/electric, parking space, use of family stuff (shampoo, playstation, whatever!).
Unbeknownst to him, the money would have been set aside for his future use. We don’t need him to contribute financially, but we do want him to start budgeting and thinking about his spending and his priorities. This is what adulthood looks like in the big picture.
Last night he started packing and declared that he intends to live in his truck for a few months. He thinks he can park it at work, that his boss will be okay with it, and when winter comes he’ll decide what he wants to do next. He noted that he has 13 days in which to make this decision.
It probably goes without saying that I think this is an absolutely ludicrous plan – and maybe that’s just because I highly value my creature comforts. I like my big, soft bed, and my air conditioning and my showers and my clean laundry and my fridge full of food. Perhaps I am soft.
Maybe I should have seen this coming – he did talk about living in his truck before he even bought it. Maybe he considers this an adventure.
Of all the responses to being asked to pay rent, this is not the one that I anticipated. I have made clear to him, I hope, that I think it’s a bad idea – but that he, ultimately, is an adult who needs to decide for himself what will make him happy. I have made clear to him, I hope, that the goal here isn’t to shove him out of the house, either.
I suppose we’ll see what happens in the next 13 days.