Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. You’ve heard that before, right?
Well, I’m pissed about that. Seriously – I bought a simple pair of tweezers the other day and a 4 page manual came with them. Why not one for children?
Oh fine, I know why. I’m just saying that most days, parenting decisions are a crapshoot. And the only thing better than a manual?
Well, it’s when your very own parent calls you out of the blue to say, “I know it’s hard, but you’re doing the right thing with your daughter.”
You see, Watermelon had 3 friends over this weekend. They hung out and swam and then they all wanted to go get ice cream at the local gas station.
Now – yes – we live in Podunk. And yes, it’s a small, safe town.
But it's not safe enough for me to let my 12 year old ride up to the gas station, across two county roads and one highway. I mean – I wanted to let her go. I wanted her to have that fun with her friends.
What I wanted more was for the parents of the other 3 girls to not allow them to go either. That’s what I really wanted.
Watermelon knew I’d say no. She told them she couldn’t go. She was a little sad but a part of her gets it too. She heard me just the other day worried about the neighbor girl who I’d seen alone, down the county road, with her earbuds in…miles from home – after our other neighbor said he’s almost hit her with his car coming over the hill.
So her friends went and Watermelon stayed home and that was that.
Until about 4 hours later when my mom called. She said, “I couldn’t see all their faces but there were 3 of Watermelon’s friends all the way down by the school on their bikes when I drove by a bit ago. One of them was texting, with her head completely down, on the main road, driving wobbly because she was texting. How scary.”
(I doubt their mothers knew that’s where they were. The school is NOT by the gas station.)
I said, “Yah. They were here earlier. Watermelon was supposed to go with them…but we didn’t let her. She’s a little sad about it and I feel bad because I’m making her miss out on that.”
My mom said, “It’s dangerous. They’re so young and so beautiful and those are major roads. I know it’s hard but you’re doing the right thing.”
I doubt very much if my mom’s mom ever said anything like to her. It might be one of the first times mine has said it to me. It was a relief to hear those words…almost like she handed me a manual or a passing grade on a test.
I always swore I’d know the kind of parent I’d be as far as letting my kids go do fun things. My parents were very paranoid and didn’t trust anyone and therefore, there were very few things I was allowed to do or go to. Because I was a girl – it was even worse.
And now I constantly feel that pull between letting go and holding on to the fear of what ifs and keeping them close. The decisions suck. I wish no one had to think about what could happen to your child when you’re not around. I wish it was cut and dried and I wish that I always knew she’d come back safe. I wish I could let go of some of the paranoia my parents unconsciously put in me…though it serves a purpose now.
I mean, let’s be real. I wish there was a damn manual…because I never, ever imagined I’d be the person in anyone else’s life who denied them ice cream with their friends.
Next time, I’m making Rambo say no to her. For me, saying no to ice cream is just against my internal moral code, you know?