Tuesday, November 25, 2014

the creepy chaperones

While we're on the subject of children leaving home... How do parents of teenagers not just cry all the time and follow their kids around like crazy ex girlfriends?

Let me back up.

If you happened to check Facebook last Wednesday night, you might have noticed that DM and I were on a date. On a school night, no less! I'm gonna go on ahead and pat myself on the back for that one.

It being date night and all, I engaged in some married flirting, saying things like "Will you still make out with me even though I smell like dirty head and the 80's?"

why do they all smell like Madonna?
And "It's gonna take two people to get these pants off, but they're fastened with a hair tie so at least you'll have a head start!"

just fyi, that's a (really) dirty mirror, not dirty pants. well. the pants are probably dirty too. but, not THAT dirty.
We went to a Bastille concert. We may have been the oldest people there. I felt like we were chaperones on a school field trip. My immediate charges were a pack of strongly scented, perfectly coiffed Scandinavian exchange students. They were like Swedish Bieber triplets. It was fun. My favorite part was when the band did a rendition of TLC's "Scrubs." Funny what bits and pieces of pop culture have staying power. Like the other day I heard a young teenage boy make a 'Mean Girls' reference. Who'd'a thunk?! Then on the way home from the concert, DM and I got into a debate over whether the song "Pony" playing on the radio was a recent song (his view), vs. a recent remix of a song that's nearly 20 years old (my view). For future reference, Googling "Pony Horny Ride Me" is NSFW. Also, I was right (obv).

Anyway. Back to the show. I really enjoyed it. The lead singer was one of the most polite young men I've ever encountered. His parents should be proud. It was good music and they put on a great show. At one point they asked everyone in the audience to turn on their "torches" but since no one has lighters anymore, everyone turned on their cell phone flashlights, so instead of mood lighting, the place was lit up like a Christmas tree and it sort of felt like we were in the middle of a mass police interrogation. Also, at the end, the lead singer went out and ran around the audience while he sang. I love that kind of shit, even though I was sort of having a sympathetic panic attack for the guy because people were grabbing and touching him and it was 23% scary.

everybody put your hands up, you're under arrest!
I have to admit, though, I spent a good chunk of the show sort of creepy-staring at the group in front of us. It was a mom and dad, probably in their 40s? With their younger son (clearly just along for the ride), their high school-aged daughter (honestly she could've been anywhere from 12 to 17, I'm not good with ages), and a handful of her girlfriends. I'm not going to be able to put the pull of these people into words, and I'm probably just going to come off sounding like a stalker, but I was so intrigued by their dynamic.

First off, this teenage girl was willingly in public with her parents, so they must be doing something right. And she and her friends were sort of mesmerizing. She was beautiful, but not old enough to really know it, or to be self conscious of this fact. And she was completely transfixed and transformed by the music and the experience. I remember feeling like that, at that age... Like I was just mainlining music straight into my soul. It made me wonder at what point we all get so crusty and jaded?

But what really caught my eye was the mom. She wasn't that much older than me. She seemed as hip as you could be, for a mom. She knew all the words to every song, though whether that was from a personal affinity, or because her daughter plays them at full blast on repeat is unclear. But she wasn't really watching the show much, either. She was watching her daughter watch the show. Riveted. And garnering such pure, unadulterated joy as it was being filtered through her daughter's eyes. It almost made me want to cry. Like, happy/sad glistening tears, not ugly-crying or anything ;)

I just kept thinking about my daughter. Both of my children, actually. Even now, at 2 and 4 years old, I am constantly blown away by the fact that they are turning into such little PEOPLE. Like, real legitimate human beings. But, really, they're still so present. So open. So needy. So accessible. There's no barrier between me and their feelings, their hearts, their thoughts. (No barrier AT ALL. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, at MAX volume, always.)

I can't imagine what it's going to feel like when they're further along in the "conscious uncoupling" process, when they start to become truly separate and distinct from me. On the one hand, if you don't fuck it up too badly, your heart's just got to be bursting with pride. You freakin' CREATED these humans from nothing but tequila and a smile, and they are surviving in this big bad world, and they are the type of people that you would actually like to know, even if they hadn't sprung forth from your very own vagina.

On the other hand, I have to imagine it feels a lot like you're outside on a cold night, looking in on a bright, warm party to which you were not invited. Maybe they'll take pity on you and let you in out of the cold. But you know you're only there out of the goodness of their hearts.... You definitely weren't on the guest list. Hopefully, on the flip side, when they're as growed-up as they're gonna get, they'll let you back in, but man, that in-between-time has got to be a polar vortex for your heart. Ugh.

I did not expect to be this kind of mother. I wouldn't have guessed it in a million years. I didn't cry when I had to go back to work, when I sent them off to preschool, when I leave for a romantic grown-up getaway. I'm always happy when it's Friday, but usually, I'm pretty happy when it's Monday again, too. (Monday is the working mom's Friday ;)) I surreptitiously toss 97% of their "art" into the trash. (Like a ninja in the night. Hell hath no fury like a toddler who found his "mastowpiece" crumpled up in the garbage can.) The idea of saving a lock of my kids' hair or their baby teeth gives me the heebie jeebies. I mean, used teeth?!? That's just fucking disgusting, people. And yet. Here I am, on the verge of tears at some concert because the strangers in front of me are making me nostalgic for my life 15 years from now? WHO ARE YOU?! AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE OLD ME WHO WASN'T A COMPLETE AND TOTAL SAPPY PANTS?!?!


So. I have seen my future, and it involves me following my teenage children around with puppy dog eyes, watching them while they sleep, snuggling their long-forgotten blankies in the corner of my closet, and crying at the drop of a hat because of the way they eat an apple. I am really feeling that quote right now that says "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." (Elizabeth Stone). Ohhh my heart.

I just figured it out! This is like toddlers being freaking adorable so you don't murder them in their sleep. Conversely, teenagers are total angsty A-holes to their parents so that mom and dad don't spend four years mooning and moping and sobbing uncontrollably in public. It's God/Mother Nature/Darwin's way of helping us let them go :)

Anyway, when DM and I returned home, we revisited the too-tight-pants-tied-with-a-rubber-band issue. He was like, "What in the hell? I don't understand this. I mean, it made some sort of sense when you were actually pregnant, or recently pregnant, but it's been almost three years! Why do you continue to buy pants that you have to jerry-rig shut? Just buy bigger pants!" I thought: NEVARRR!!! I said: "Well, these happen to be really old pre-pregnancy pants that are WAY to small. But I do also sometimes buy pants that are a little too small, because I'm between sizes, and I just can't bring myself to buy the bigger size." DM: "Okay, but why, if you're between a 5 and a 7, do you buy a 3?!"

Aaaaand, that was the end of date night. (Although his cluelessness re: women's sizing and the notion that I could even get my ankle into a size 3 is kind of cute. And there was no way I was getting those pants off by myself. And it also reminded me of when I was pregnant and he would always take my boots off for me because I couldn't reach over my belly. Okay, fine. He can stay ;))

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