Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bad Mother

Okay, I have done it this time. I am no longer a candidate for Mother of the Year. All my chances gone in a mere 24 hour period.

I know that parenthood is not easy and that we all make mistakes. For the most part, it has been fun and not too painful for me. I know that I am extremely lucky that my kids have rebelled by being a blue-haired salutatorian and a stage diva who sometimes masquerades as a math genius. Believe me, I know that things could be much worse.

That said, I must now confess my two great parental failings of the last 24 hours.

FAILURE #1 Last night, Erin wanted to go to the movies with a friend, a girl. The girl wanted to go to the movies with friends, Erin and a boy. Erin was okay with being the third wheel. The problem is that for religious reasons the girl is not permitted to date. So, Erin was a distraction so that the girl's parents did not know that she was going to the movies with a boy. Every bit of this I knew as we strolled into the theatre. I played along. Should I have done that? Have I betrayed the parental tribe? Should I have said something to the girl's mother?

I am grateful that Erin felt that she could share with me what was really going on. Though I don't condone lying or sneaking around behind your parent's back, (I know, I know, actions speak louder than words. But I can explain!) I felt like this situation was relatively benign and tattling would cause much more trouble than it was worth.

The kids, Erin, girl, and boy, were waiting in the lobby of the theater when we came out of our movie. Erin and the girl walked out with us. Boy went out a side entrance because girl's mother was waiting out front.

As we were leaving the parking lot, Erin got a panicked phone call from boy because he was afraid that girl's mother had seen him. What was he going to do if she got in trouble? It is nice to know he has a conscience. In trying to escape the theater through a back entrance, he also got lost. Erin was on the phone with a panicked, lost boy trying to give him instructions to get home. I felt sorry for him. I found myself giving Erin all kinds of scenarios that would account for boy's presence at the movies - none of which included meeting the girl. I was teaching my daughter how to lie! What was I thinking?

Truthfully, what I was thinking is that I am glad that my kids tell me the truth and that their lives are not governed but such strict rules that they feel it necessary to lie about what they are doing. As it turned out, no one got in trouble. Girl's mother did not know that girl met boy at the movie. That is our secret.

FAILURE #2 For several months, Brooke has been making noise about going to the beach for a week with four other girls who graduated last May. My first thought was over my dead body. But, I refrained from immediately responding that way. I simply said that I did not think that such a trip was a good idea. In typical teen aged fashion she came back with the proverbial WHY NOT!! Let me count the ways:
  1. You swore off the beach when you came home from that 7th grade trip with second degree burns from sunburn.
  2. You have not seen any of these girls this summer and you have never socialized with them, never, outside of required school activities.
  3. You have very little in common with them.
  4. You don't own a bathing suit.
  5. Chasing boys is not your favorite hobby.
  6. I don't trust a couple of them.
  7. I don't want you driving 9 hours
  8. I don't want you driving 9 hours.
  9. I don't want you driving 9 hours.
  10. I just don't think this trip is a good idea. (This is based on mother's intuition but I knew that wouldn't fly so I kept that thought to myself.)

Brooke actually agreed with points 1-5 but said that none of that really mattered. As to point 6, she said that I did not have to trust them; I had to trust her. The deal is, I do trust her but I really don't trust them. Brooke reminded me that in a few months I was sending her to Chicago where I would not be able to choose her friends or mandate her comings and goings. True, but that is different. (Give me a minute and I will figure out how.) To points 7-9 she assured me that none of them has ever had a wreck. To which I replied, "there is a first time for everything." I found myself relying heavily on my gut feeling that this trip was just not a good idea.

I don't think I have failed as a parent so far. Here it comes.

In the past week Brooke has misplaced/lost her Ipod. She has the same kind of relationship with her Ipod that a toddler has with a blanket or a favorite stuffed toy - they are nearly inseparable. After we all tore apart the house looking for it, I told her that I guessed she was going to have to buy herself a new one. Through a voice much like that of a whiny toddler, she said, "I don't want to spend my money on a new Ipod. I want you to buy me a new one." Yeah right. You have graduation money. You buy it.

Then the bad parent gene kicked in. I have a solution to both of our problems. I told her that if she would agree not to go to the beach, I would buy her a new Ipod. Without hesitating, she said, "Deal!" I have probably been had because I honestly think that when it came time to really make the trip, she would have backed out. But this way, I don't have to worry anymore. We are both happy. Brooke will have a new Ipod and I will not have to worry about her on that trip. That is enough for me. To hell with the Mother of the Year thing . . .