My son turns 13 next month, and I’m trying to give him more responsibility and independence. While we were still in NYC, my husband had to work and I took my daughter to Queens to visit one of her camp friends. I gave my son a few bucks and told him he was welcome to walk by himself as far as Union Square, where the farmer’s market takes place, or the Strand bookstore. When I got home that afternoon, I asked him what he did.

Boy: I went to the farmer’s market and wandered around.

Me: That’s great! Did you get something to eat?

Boy: Yeah. I got three apple cider donuts.

I raise my eyebrows at him.

Boy: And a Coke.

Me: Your lunch was three apple cider donuts and a Coke?

Boy: Well, it was more like breakfast. I didn’t eat lunch.

Me: But three apple cider donuts and a Coke?

Boy: What did you expect me to eat?

Me: I dunno. Maybe a hot dog or a slice of pizza.

The boy tilts his head slightly with a puzzled look.

Boy: Huh. Never thought of that. Yeah, that might have made a better lunch.

Why do I feel like the road to self-reliance may be a bit bumpy?