My parents actually are the best. They’ve stuck with each other through 33 years of marriage, and stuck by me and my siblings our entire lives. I’m lucky, because I get to hang with my parents a lot. We live in the same little lake town, and appreciate a lot of the same things in life. Growing up, I preferred hanging out laughing with my Dad rather than a night out with friends. In fact, my friends hung out at my house a lot. Always a lot of laughs. At 18, I had a streak of independence that couldn’t take me away from home fast enough. But as an adult with my own family…part of ‘home’ is having them close by.
Parenting is an eye-opening experience. All of the sudden, the rough patches my personality traveled through to get to this point dissipate to reveal two little tiny people who strongly resemble the very beginning of that journey. And the reasons my parents ‘parented’ the way they did become clearer, too.
I enjoy laughing at my kids when they do things that remind me of my sister and I when we were little, and so do my parents! Finally! I understand why they laughed at me as a kid…I mean, besides the fact that I was extremely entertaining…lol.
Every once in a while, they would just bust up laughing at me…looking at each other as if they shouldn’t be enouraging me, but it was so funny they just couldn’t help it. The ‘what’ that was so funny was unknown to me at the time. Now, I totally get it.
Each time my almost-four-year-old has an attack of the dramatics, I flash back to my own long episodes of tears and strife…because my Mom threw out an old broken Mickey Mouse toy we were attached to…or revolting in my salon up-do for prom, so much so that I re-washed my hair and re-spun it into an acceptable style myself…or driving home from college at 4AM in the morning, emotionally drained over a boy.
Poor Brianne was distraught for an entire week over a fellow pre-school student eluding that she was mean. “But I’m nice, Mommy…I just don’t know why he said that to me…I’m really a very nice little girl.” Don’t worry…I’m ready for all of it.
Imagine my delight to overhear my daughter composing her own music video in her room…dancing around with her tutu on, and rotating between a crayon for a microphone and her Hannah Montana guitar. I laughed so hard I had to run to the bathroom to pee, because I used to think I was the next backup dancer for Janet Jackson. I took dance for 15 years, and practiced in front of the mirror in my room every day. Blasting music and singing at the top of my lungs…feet pounding on the floor as I perfected my moves…my parents caught me on video falling off the top of our boat dancing once…the laughs they must have had.
“Just wait until you have kids…” my parents would say. It’s totally true! I never expected to actually have a little ‘mini’ me. She has imaginary friends… giggle attacks…is fiercely competitive at an unnaturally early age. Which adds to her frustration with herself when she can’t pick up on something new right away. (We’re finally enjoying tricycle rides down the road instead of her kicking and throwing it because she can’t figure it out.) All these things are like pulling pages out of my own playbook.
Grandma and Grandpa have some good laughs over their little nuances, all the while glancing at me with an all-knowing look. They’ve got to be thinking…’Oh, man…now you know how we felt dealing with you…just wait until they are teenagers!’ It’s a privilege to be able to share these moments with my parents, and a lesson to me to relax about a lot of things…because in the end it’s all just good comedy.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. When I look back at my childhood, it’s filled with lots of laughter and fun times together. I have you to thank for that. Even now, you keep me focused on what’s most important in life. As my face-painted little sister once sang into the video camera…don’t worry, be happy. My own daughter’s nightly giggle attacks were played out at our dinner table in Broadview Hts. not so long ago. Having you right here to share life’s journey with me and my family is awesome.
To all of you out there that feel the same appreciation for your parents…you should tell them.