I remember the day each of my three children was born. They came in kicking and screaming and from the moment they arrived their personalities were firmly established. As first time parents we were so sure our children would be different, perfect even! We would teach them how to behave; manners, how and when to speak, who to play with, what to play with, and what they should aspire to when they grow up. (we refused to allow our son to play with guns – only ‘educational’ toys would be allowed, until he figured out how to make one with lego, then proceeded to blow the heads off his sisters Barbie dolls) Oh yeah, we had it all figured out.
Unfortunately, so did they, and we learned quickly that children are born with their own personalities. There’s no way to mold little minds and those well behaved little darlings don’t always behave so well. Makes you wonder who’s raising who!
As the youngest of three I was somewhat anonymous. My brother, the eldest and only boy, was worshipped because he ‘carried the name’. He was given free reign throughout his teen years, and eventually he was given a car because a man needed transportation. My sister, the middle child (and don’t think she doesn’t play that card at every opportunity) was fiercely independent. Strong willed and determined to ‘raise herself’ she challenged my parents, causing enough of a distraction for me to slip under the radar, so I was quite innocent to the antics of kids……until I had my own.
Now that all three of my children are grown and starting families of their own they feel more relaxed about sharing stories of their youth and I’m more than a little surprised to see what I missed.
I recall one wintery day when returning from a walk I noticed footprints in the snow that wound around my house. Concerned some thief might be casing the joint to attempt to rob us I followed the tracks through the snow and eventually stumbled upon a case of beer chilling in a snow pile outside my back porch. It never occurred to me my wholesome, innocent children could be responsible – I just assumed would-be thieves were planning a party under my porch. Little did I know my under aged son was preparing for a party. I later found out that the little darling was also the one who bought beer for his under aged friends because he always looked older and could get away with it. (this kid had hairy legs and a mustache in grade one so by age 10 he could easily pass for ‘age-of-majority’. Needless to say he was a popular kid in high school) I just couldn’t believe my innocent babe would do such a thing.
My younger daughter used to suffer with migraines in her youth. During one supposed bout she was flat out and recovering in our basement rec room, under the diligent care of her older sister and a friend. It was years later I found out it wasn’t a migraine at all. Apparently she and her friend were drinking at a friends house (under age, of course) the night before, and over indulged. She called her older sister for help getting home, who came to collect her with her boyfriend, in his fathers car. The motion of the car wreaked havoc on her churning stomach and she proceeded to vomit all over the back seat. The kids all pooled their money to have the car professionally cleaned but the smell was so firmly entrenched in the upholstery the parents eventually had to sell the car. How’d I miss that?
The kids laughingly recite these stories (and many others, I’m shocked to discover) now, in their adult years. They said they made a pact in their teens to always bail the other out if it was needed. Apparently it was needed a lot. I just can’t believe I was so naïve to think my kids were different, or worse, that I could be so deceived by them. What a shock to discover they were like everybody else’s kid,,,,, normal!
My only consolation is that everything that goes around really does come around (and if it doesn’t I’ll help it) My eldest daughter is now raising two girls, both ‘spirited’, and she too is discovering the challenges of an independent mind. You think they’re a handful now,,,, wait’ll those teen years sister. (I didn’t drink until I had children) I had a friend who joked that she’d come into a room to break up a fight between her kids and would fling her slipper at them. It didn’t matter who it hit because it didn’t matter who was at fault, she’d say, “ eventually they all do something wrong”.
Now, well past the danger years where children do stupid, reckless things, I have the luxury of simply observing. I was lucky because despite my apparent naiveté, my kids turned out ok. I didn’t have issues with drugs or police, no serious infractions (at least none they’ve confessed to yet) so I’ll watch with interest to see if they do any better. The tables have turned.