Mom and Dad,
The next three words immediately preceding this sentence isn’t hard for me to say. YOU WERE RIGHT.
You said, “When you have children of your own, I promise you will ground them.”
I thought, “That word will be banished from my home.”
You said, “You will not be their friend or at least not the kind of friend that a very selfish, sneaky teenager wants you to be. You will be many things to him or her in those teen years; butler, spy, warden, hugger, listener. Friend will come later, I promise.”
I thought, “PUH-LEASE! I’ll be the cool mom/friend that every 'alleged' selfish, sneaky teenager wishes they had.”
You said, “You will understand what it’s like to watch the minutes click by at a glacial pace past curfew. Then the sick feeling that follows when it’s 30 minutes past curfew. You will throw a coat on over pj’s and drive around looking for your child. I promise this scenario will not embarrass you and you will care less that it embarrasses your sneaky teen.”
I thought, “Another word that will never be used in my home.”
You said, “You will not regret being a tough parent.”
I thought, “Only if tough parent means not MAKING my kid work! And buying, giving, doing whatever he wants no matter what. Because he deserves to be happy every second of every day.”
You said, “You will see, finally, that we made you finish the things you started, didn’t let you wear makeup until you were ready, set curfews, made you work, and didn’t let you do everything you wanted to do, because we love you. You will understand your mother and I have better things to do with our time than stay awake at night thinking of ways to make our teenager's life hard.”
I thought, “Liars.”
You said, “I wish I could take away the pain of a breakup, the disappointment of not making the team or getting the lead role in a school play, of a friend's betrayal, or all of those icky feelings of insecurity you feel right now. But I can’t. All of these things are part of life. I can promise that you will survive and be better than you were.”
I thought, “Whatevs!”
I didn’t believe any of it. I knew it all. You, mom and dad, were idiots.
I distinctly remember thinking, “IF I have kids, we will be the best of friends. They can stay out as late as they want without worrying about a pesky curfew. Bad grades? No problem. You just do you, sweet child. I’ll sit back and watch you grow. We can even party together because I’m the cool mom. Job? Are you kidding? You’ve got the rest of your life to work. It’s not like working hard as a child/teen will make you a more responsible, harder worker as an adult. And I will place you in a plastic bubble where no one or thing can harm you physically or emotionally. Meaning I will be single handedly responsible for you having no friends. All of this will involve me never letting you out of my sight-ever!”
Before I get to the real apology, I think you should know one of the cruelest statements you said to me was, “I hope you have a child JUST LIKE YOU.”
At the time, my immediate thought was, “ME TOO! I’M FABULOUS!” Then I became a mom to two boys. The oldest is now a teenager. The youngest isn’t far behind. I love them. They make me laugh, cry and think. They’re also the reason I’ve never regained full bladder control, but I’ll let that one go for now. They are so many wonderful things. They also try to get away with things their father and I tried to get away with. (And they’re better at it than we were!)
As it turns out, I wasn’t fabulous. I was a teenager. A selfish, sneaky, hormonal, insecure, butthole teenager. In short, I was the idiot, not you two. And I’m sorry...for everything. And thank you…for everything.
PS-Dad, you were right! Paybacks ARE hell!
Love from your eternally grateful daughter,