Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Put it in the book.

Nearly 18 years ago I walked into Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota, and you were born, my youngest, a few hours later, shy of ten pounds. If I had known you would be that big, I might have smoked or something. (I'm just kidding, obviously; please don't lecture me on the dangers of premie babies)

You, my youngest son, were ADORABLE. Big, blue eyes and white hair. I might have easily been one of those overindulgent mothers--except Sweet Baboo has reigned me in, convincing me that a man only learns respect if he's made to be respectful.


MOM: I HAVE DECIDED U WILL PULL WEEDS THIS WEEKEND.
SON: WHAT. IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

Trust me, I know it's your birthday, and that our influence has been rapidly evaporating. We've been racing to have as much influence over you as we can, while we can, so that you'll be an honorable man that respects boundaries.


MOM: UR A MAN NOW. NO MORE FREE RIDES.
NOT SURE YOU WILL HAVE A FRIEND WITH YOU EITHER.

I want you to be able to make your own decisions, and solve your own problems, so that your life will be easier. It's good, at least for now, for you to suffer the delusion that you don't need me to make your way in the world. Meanwhile, though, it's time you started understanding that I have a life, too. It's not all about you. Maybe I have things to do now.


SON: U PROMISED R U CHANGING YOUR MIND?
MOM: I GET 2 DO THAT. U WERE SNOTTY.
U CAN'T TREAT PEOPLE LIKE CRAP AND STILL GET WHAT YOU WANT.


You may hate me, and complain to your friends about how horrible I am, but as I told you many times: save it for the book. Complain about me in your memoir, when you write one.
MOM: UR AWFULLY SNARKY 4 A NEARLY HOMELESS MAN.
SON: QUIT CALLING ME THAT.

I'm fearful of what you'll decide to do with your shiny-new, adult self. But in that worrying is the firm understanding that becoming an adult can be much more painful if I spent your pre-adult years rescuing you from every little thing.

Put in in the book. That's what I told you whenever you and your siblings complained about how unfair I was. Put it in the book that you got kicked off the swim team and I did nothing to stop it, that I turned you in for breaking school rules and you were put in the in-school suspension. Be sure to include that I made you walk 4 miles when you slept in and missed the bus, and that I didn't take your project to school when you forgot it, even though I could have left work to do it.

Eventually, you've been figuring out 1) not to get into messes, and 2) you're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself.

This is good. Very good. I see people with ruined lives because they haven't figured out those things. I don't want you to be one of them.
I'm inflicting minor pain now so that you don't have it later. Put it all in the book.


SON: YOU'RE NOT BEING FAIR.
MOM: PUT IT IN THE BOOK.

Happy 18th birthday, my youngest son.

Have a happy life.

...

14 comments:

  1. I've been a lurker for some time now. I just felt the need to comment. I work with teeneager and people in college and I commend you for your attitude and how you raised your kids. I am seeing so many kids who expect to get everything for nothing and it is so sad. Mom and dad cater to their every need and they never let their child take the blame for anything. Good for you! Your kids will thank you some day.

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  2. love it. he will realize one day that you were only looking out for his best interests. i'm (@24 years) now realizing how much of a pain i was to my parents some (most?) days, and i am thankful to them for standing their ground. (although i surely wasn't back then!)

    happy birthday to your son!

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  3. Still smiling over here. Youngest is 27..It will get better-I promise!

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  4. O-b-K-b....I'm stealing that line! "Put it in the book" is now my official saying when I want to yell "suck it up kid." Your expression sounds so much better and maybe they will actually put it in a book, make millions, and buy me a big ol' house cause I provided them with their life! LOL....

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  5. "Put it in the book" - love it! Have to pass it on. Because of how you're raising him, he will likely be around to write the book, and to thank you when he's old enough to understand that it's BECAUSE you love him so much that you taught him to be respectful and responsible, and will remember it when he has his own kids. Way to go.

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  6. I know those situations are coming at my house, I hope I can be strong like you...great post!

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  7. NO WIRE HANGERS!

    Just kidding. I am so behind you. Pulling weeds is so much less trouble than hiring lawyers and paying fines and getting into deep debt and all the other situations that befall the inappropriately coddled.

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  8. I don't have a teenager yet but I have been stuggling with my 10 year old all this year.

    I am going to be stealing your line..."put it in the book" because I am so tired of the complaints from him. AND yes I know he is only 10!

    Thanks for the great post.

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  9. Love it! Happy 18th indeed. Or maybe some day he'll think so when he writes it in a book

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  10. This is great. I am the 'accident' child of my parents. My brothers are 10- and 12- years younger than I am. My mother refused to do all of the things that you also refused to do with your son. Then my brothers got to that age and she started babying them: rides to school, special snacks, dinner-on-command, no morning chores...then no evening chores...They are in full-blown-teenage-angst-n-hormone-ville right now and she's realizing her mistakes. And I get to hear about how I was a great kid and she didn't even know it. Oh man. She should write a book. You two could co-author.

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  11. I think you are a wonderful mother. I read your musings faithfully and believe you to be spot-on in pretty much everything.

    They are lucky, they know that (somewhere, in the goo that makes up the as-yet unused portions of their brains). You'll see this one blossom over the next few years.

    You'll also see the flowers (if that's what he's to be weeding) grow better this summer.

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  12. Great post, Misty. I am very thankful that my parents taught me about the harsh realities of life instead of sheltering me from them. Eventually they will be gone and I will be able to take care of myself.

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  13. Thank you for affirming that I'm not alone in my ideas about parenting my soon-to-start-talking son with firm boundaries and common sense. I'm appalled at the obnoxious, spoiled rotten, overly coddled monsters people are churning out and I'm desperate to keep it from happening with mine.

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