The whole family packed up shop on Friday night and headed to my parents’ house an hour away to spend the night. It was good to get out and to see everyone. And I received an added bonus when I went up to my old bedroom and found my journal from when I was just a kid (Did I really write things down once upon a time? I can’t believe I functioned without blogs?).
I read through all the old entries, some of which made me laugh and other times cringe. Sometimes both. It was filled with all the usual stuff that pre-teen angst consists of: school woes, trouble with friends, all the girls who didn’t return the attention I was lavishing on them and, of course, a lengthy chronicle of parental misconduct.
The term “parental misconduct” is one I made up when I was younger. I love football and during football games the referees throw a yellow flag whenever there’s a penalty. I secretly wished I could have the power to blow a whistle when my parents were being difficult and penalize them for parental misconduct.
Although looking back, it’s silly to be complaining. Honestly, my parents were great in just about every way. My mom was one of the most involved moms on the planet. My dad wasn’t so involved when we were younger because he was building a business from the ground up, but because of that we had a house, food and clothes so I think it evened out. I could literally spend days extolling the virtues of my parents and listing all the great things they did raising us.
But that’s really boring and not nearly as humorous as pointing out the miniscule amount of mistakes they made. So, spurred on by my journal and the short list of events I was upset about when I was younger, I give you some parental misconduct moments which I will probably repeat in some form or another with Will.
- My brother and I weren’t allowed to have squirt guns because my bleeding heart liberal parents are anti 2nd Amendment. I understand an aversion to guns, but not allowing us squirt guns until I was 12 was a tad over the top.
- They made me join the band. I’m serious, they took my course sheet in high school and FORCED me to sign up for the band. You see, they were both band geeks in high school so they wanted me to follow in their geeky footsteps. They still maintain that the people in the band “were really cool.” I quit before I ever had to wear that stupid uniform at a halftime show.
- My dad completely overreacted when I started dating. He nearly drove off the road when I told him I had kissed a girl for the first time. Then, when I kissed a girl in front of him and my mom, he pulled the whole “Have some respect, we’re your parents, what is wrong with you?” thing. Totally uncool. But for the record, my mom was a champ and gave me a high-five afterwards!
- My dad was also annoying suspicious that I was drinking and/or doing drugs all the time, when the truth of the matter is I never touched anything until I was in college. He’s still convinced to this day that I came home one New Year’s Eve with liquor on my breath. And he was such a little girl when accusing me of it. Truthfully, I wish I had dabbled in that stuff in high school. But the truth is that I watched the Lion King that New Year’s with my girlfriend while awkwardly making out with her with 6 other people in the room. No booze, no drugs.
- Every time my father wore shorts in public he’d jack up his old man socks all the way to his knees. And when my brother and I told him how he was humiliating himself and us as well, he pulled them up even higher.
- And one time he mistakenly thought I whacked my mom and he lost his ever-lovin’ mind. My mom was being totally unreasonable and we started yelling at each other. Well she got so mad that she came over to me and started woman slapping me and pushing me against my bedroom door. I crossed my arms, defending myself, and thrust out my elbows just to get her far enough away from me to stop hitting me. Well all my dad saw was her stumbling back and he thought I had popped her one (which I would never do), so he comes over and screams “DON’T YOU EVER HIT YOUR MOTHER!” I was stunned and before I could explain he was whacking the bejesus out of me. Thankfully he fights like a band geek so the injuries were minimal!
- I forget exactly what age I was, probably 14 or 15, but one day my dad called me into his room. I thought I was in trouble at first but much to my surprise, he was holding a Playboy magazine. He had heard me talk about how hot Anna Nicole Smith was (back when she was actually hot and not a freak show) and decided to make a father-son bonding moment out of it. So he opens up the Playboy to Anna Nicole’s spread and gave me permission to check her out. I know he meant well, but there were a couple of issues with this: 1) Looking at naked chicks with your dad at 14 years old is just awkward. Not cool. And 2) I didn’t want to burst his bubble by telling him I knew exactly where all of his Playboys were and I had combed through all of them approximately 500,000 times since hitting puberty.
- Nothing is sacred or secret with my dad. I picked up this trait as well. So as a result of this, he’ll tell his vasectomy story in front of your friends without notice, or he’ll regale a total stranger with the tale of how my first girlfriend at college turned lesbian without batting an eyelash. Bringing home new girlfriends was always nerve wracking.
My mom wasn’t just involved in our lives, she merged her life and ours. For instance:
- Sophomore year of high school after the semi-formal dance. None of my friends had drivers licenses yet so they picked us up, but they were early. We were just getting our food at a local restaurant so I asked them to get the hell away wait. While I was talking to them, my burger came and I was getting ready to put ketchup on it by whacking the bottom of the bottle. My mom, for reasons I still can’t grasp, grabbed the bottle of ketchup from me and proceeded to stick a knife in there and then smear the ketchup all over my burger for me. In front of all my friends. And my date.
- My mom not only attended nearly every single one of my sporting events, she drove the bus to my away games in high school. Don’t get me wrong, it was really cool to have her there watching and cheering me on. But it was not kosher to sit in the back of the bus with upper classmen, trying to be cool, while lying talking about my most recent sexual escapades to impress them, with her just a few feet away.
- Senior year of high school my mom decided to direct the senior class play. I wanted no part of it, yet she not only made me be the lead actor…she made it a frickin’ musical! I tried to get out of it but my father threatened me with a fate worse than death and told me I was not going to disappoint my mother. For the record, my name in the play was Corndoggie and it involved me singing falsetto like my nuts were cut off at one point.
- Also senior year of high school, my mom was in school more than I was. One day, she was walking through the school library when all of a sudden (and she still has no explanation for this) she became very worried that I didn’t have any lunch money. Keep in mind I was 17 years old and had a job for the last two years. So she sees my friend Jeff in the library and asks him what class I’m in at the moment because she wants to give me lunch money. Jeff, asshole that he was, tells her I’m in math class just down the hall. So as math class is IN PROGRESS, I hear a knock at the door. Time stood still as I realized it was my mom’s face peeking through that little square window. Then, she waved $2 in the air and mouthed “I HAVE YOUR LUNCH MONEY.” As I’m sure you all know, high school is an unforgiving environment and when mommy interrupts class to give you, a 17 year old senior, lunch money…well, you don’t quite live that down.
Honestly, I love my parents. And if these small examples are the worst I have after almost 30 years of life then that means they did a hell of a job. I’d like to say I’ll learn from these mistakes, but I already know I won’t. Will is going to have an even longer list of things I end up doing that embarrass the hell out of him, but as long as I can do half the job my parents did…I’ll be just fine.