Monday, December 03, 2007

One of the Ways in Which I Intend to Parent Differently

Have I told you about my advice column addiction? Dunno why I read them so often. I think I'm looking for some kind of blueprint for wacky life situations. Or I'm insecure about the way I handle emotional issues, and I look for reassurance/reinforcement from these columns. That's to be decided another day, I suppose.

Today I read a column in which a mother wanted to know if she was being too controlling since she required her 14-year-old daughter to supply her with the first and last names of the friends with whom she was hanging out after school. There's more to the tale, but I kind of stopped there...

When I was thirteen years old, I stayed over at my best friend's house for New Year's. Colleen and I met in sixth grade, but we became really good friends in seventh, and so by then, eighth grade, were were thick as thieves. I stayed over at her house often. We went to see movies and sundry other events often. I spoke of her often. You see the common thread here: OFTEN.

So, that first night of 1989, a blizzard struck the suburbs of Baltimore. Very picturesque. Colleen's family dropped me off at my house the next afternoon on their way to eat a Chinese restaurant. I slip-slided up the driveway, and blustered through the back door, my cheeks red from the cold.

"MCV!" my parents and my older sister shouted. Not in anger, but in a, "Oh, there you are" kind of way.


"What is Colleen's last name?"

I raised an eyebrow, "Jones*. "

They all erupted into laughter.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"We wanted to call to see if you needed a ride home, and Little Bro said her name was Warglick, so we've been looking for her parents' phone number in the directory! And there aren't any Warglicks in Baltimore! Where on earth did Little Bro get that name? Ha ha ha!"

Ha ha ha! Ha ha... Ha?

WHY would they have let me spend the night at the house of a family whose last name they didn't know? WHY didn't they know the last name of my best friend of two years? AND WHY DIDN'T THEY DEMAND A PHONE NUMBER SO THAT THEY COULD CONTACT THEIR PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS DAUGHTER IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY LIKE A BLIZZARD WITH POTENTIAL POWER OUTAGE CONSEQUENCES?

My parents were, shall we say, somewhat hands-off by the time I ventured into my teen years. I still had an eleven o'clock curfew and good grades were high on the agenda, but if I operated within those parameters, I'm fairly certain I could have been boozing it up with a panoply of shady characters and my parents would've been just fine with that.

I believe firmly that if Super Ninja and I can blend our upbringings together, we'll have a shot at a modicum of normalcy. Either that, or we'll really, really screw up our children. I don't really see much of a middle ground here, though.

*Her last name isn't Jones, but something roughly as common.

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