Can I Get a Do-Over?
I didn’t think this whole parenting thing all the way through. I’ve been accused in the past of making rash decisions without thinking about how they may affect me and my life and other people down the road. That has never been truer than now. Case in point—I wanted a lot of kids, a big family. I had fantasies about large gatherings at Christmas and other holidays where you eat yourself into a stupor.
I envisioned all the kids coming home from college or from the exotic places they’d moved to, talking over coffee in the mornings, shopping together, cooking out, and enjoying each other’s company. I would still do their laundry (because that’s what moms do), cook their favorite meals, slip them a twenty-dollar bill, and laugh together about all the silly things they did when they were kids. Then I woke up. You have to actually raise these futuristic, mature, successful kids into being such fun-to-be-around adults. And this is the part of the illusion that isn’t so grand.
I’m not very fond of the actual “raising” part. Would it be wrong to send them away—say when they turn ten, and pick them up the day they turn twenty? Let them be someone else’s problem for ten years. I mean it’s not like they’re cute anymore. And we all could certainly deal without the back talk and the eye rolling, the lying and manipulating, right? Who’s with me? I have four children. And do you know why I have four children? Because I don’t want five! (I must credit Bill Cosby with that joke—it’s one of my favorites—and very true!)
Having children can be a total buzz kill at times—no, make that a lot of the time—especially teenagers. Ugh! I’ve just recently ventured into the shark tank known as teenagerdom and it ain’t fun. Most days I feel the need to call my mother and apologize. The times I have, she’s just laughed. Man, am I getting what was coming to me. But my mother (God love her) swears that I wasn’t a pain in the neck until around the age of sixteen. Hmm. It’s happening much earlier in my case—mine (who shall remain nameless) is only thirteen. It’s going to get better, right? I mean, she started earlier because she’s getting it over with, right?
Don’t get me wrong. She’s the sweetest girl in the world. I actually like her a lot. And if she wasn’t my responsibility—I mean, if I wasn’t legally obligated to spend time with her, I would totally hang out with her. She’s smart, funny, beautiful, a gifted athlete—all of that and more. But here’s the downside. Every boy within a fifty-mile radius has caught onto that also and wants to be “friends” with her. Yeah right. They want to be friends with her like I think I’m way too skinny. And this is the part of the story that I hate—BOYS! I don’t like them—any of them. They come around her and I get nauseous! Why couldn’t I have had an ugly, homely child? Why was I stricken with such beautiful, vivacious girls?
It’s happening already. I’m losing sleep. I worry that she’s going to sneak out of the house at night, or that she will try alcohol at a friend’s house, or that she will wake up one day and decide to move to Hollywood and become a starlet. That would be the worst day of my life. No, the worst day so far was when I overheard her telling her younger sister that she had kissed a boy. I almost fainted. I wanted to scream, “Why me? Why is this happening to me?” But I didn’t. I ignored my wobbly knees and upset stomach and tried to act cool when I entered the room. I know I was green. Both of them looked at me and asked if I was okay. I couldn’t get the words to come out of my mouth so I just nodded—and then I silently cursed the universe.
And it gets much worse. I’ve got two more of these same kinds of beings right behind this one. How does anyone do this? How do you make it out alive? Is there a support group for parents with daughters? If so, does anyone know the hotline number? I’ve had the “talk” with the two oldest girls. I bought a book to use as a guide and we went over certain parts—the ones I felt were appropriate for now. There were quite a few chapters I skipped. There was no need in telling them everything at this point. Do you know what I mean? They were as embarrassed as I was (although I don’t know how that could be possible) and acted grossed out by most of the visual images. I couldn’t wait for the “talk” to be over with.
You know what I feel like doing?—attaching myself permanently to my thirteen-year-old daughter’s side. We could fashion some outfit that zips down the middle—I would wear half and she would wear half. I could move into her room with her, become friends with her friends, go to school with her (that part doesn’t sound fun—remember junior high?), and join the soccer team. I think this is the only way I’m going to be able to keep her safe. And I definitely would sleep better knowing her doings and whereabouts 24/7. But next year my twelve-year-old will be a teenager also, so I would have to come up with a way to attach her to my other side. I’m exhausted just thinking about that.
My best friends told me that my idea is not exactly reasonable. And you know why they said that? They don’t have teenage girls—none of them. You know how many girls I have? Three! Which means by the time my youngest daughter (who is five) gets out of college and I can rest somewhat easier knowing she’s out there in the world with some sense in her, I could be a serious alcoholic! That’s a lot of years of drinking wine. And if you think I’m joking, you should come to my house around 5:30 every evening. What puzzles me even more is, how do people who don’t drink, cope?
I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready to deal with boys, and dating, and everything that goes with that. I was her age once. I know exactly what’s going on. And you know what I remember the most? I thought I was bulletproof! I thought, “My parents are so dumb. They don’t know anything.” And now, I’m in the exact opposite position and most days, I just want to run away from home and come back when it’s over. It’s just the scariest place to be—way more frightening than any horror movie or haunted house. And it will be years before this feeling goes away.
As for my son—well, he’s got it made. I figure if I make it through twenty-five years of raising girls, he might just be bulletproof. I imagine by the time he comes up on his teenage years, I will toss him the keys to the liquor cabinet, buy him a motorcycle, and encourage him to be a UFC fighter. What could all that hurt? I will be so unfazed by anything then that raising him will be a walk in the park, right? I always knew I liked him best.