I grew up with parents who were ultra strict. We weren’t allowed to do anything. And when I say anything, I mean anything.
I remember my 6th grade, end of the year party. It was going to be at one of my classmates pool. Fully chaperoned.
But, because there were going to be boys, I wasn’t allowed to attend. I was pissed.
My parents knee-jerk reaction was to say “no”. Then, while I was having a full blown temper-tantrum, slamming my bedroom door multiple times (I was notorious for that and eventually my dad took my door off the hinges), they “discussed”. Sometimes they would come back and say that what I was asking for was unreasonable and give me reasons other than the original, flat out no. But other times, they would allow me the privilege of getting what I wanted or needed or longed for. A lot of times it was a fight of begging, pleading and crying until they just gave in.
God, they were so unbelievably strict and a tad bit controlling. OK, maybe more than a tad bit.
I realize now that it was out of love and fear. But as a kid, it was exceptionally frustrating watching my friends get to go places and do things that I wasn’t allowed to do.
I got older and I learned ways around their rules. Despite a WAY earlier curfew than 99.9% of my friends, I still managed to squeeze in both the good and the bad. Never really bad though, just for the record. I was too worried about getting caught and getting grounded.
I became a little rebel. And slightly wild. My favorite was drinking and dancing. Doesn’t sound that wild but that’s OK, this is a family friendly-ish blog.
As a parent, because we are fast forwarding now, I find myself fighting my inner super strict parent.
I don’t want to let my kids do a bunch of the things I’ve been allowing them to do. Going to the mall with friends. Riding their bikes to school. Leaving the house without being fully armed.
I get panicky. Sometimes. I do. But I always do it with a fake smile and a racing heart.
I used to worry that the garbage men were going to kidnap my daughter while she waited at the bus stop. So I would stare out the window…I mean STARE…until she was safely on the bus and the blinking lights were turned off.
I’m sick. There is something wrong with me.
So today. My 14 y/o daughter announced that she is going to the fair this weekend with a girlfriend. The same fair that I used to hang out at with friends, back in the day of Aqua Net and blue mascara (good god, what were we thinking?).
My insides are screaming “No, absolutely not. You’re just a little girl”, ignoring the full on woman figure standing before me, impatiently waiting for an answer.
“Cool. Thanks. Her mom will drive us.”
And all I could think about was me at her age and my parents telling me no. Absolutely not. Not without them taking me.
But, there is no way in hell that I’m going to that crowded, stinky fair over Memorial Day weekend. For no other reason than…cotton candy. Oh, I’m a sucker for it. And I’m trying to stay away from sugar. I think I digress though…
So yeah. Despite some inner turmoil and hard core debating with the voices in my head, she’s going to the fair with her friend. Because that’s what she wants to do. And really? There is no reason she shouldn’t be able to. It’s my parents voices whispers and echos that I have to listen to. She shouldn’t be punished for how I was brought up.
One major and reassuring difference between then and now…
If there is a problem, she can call us.
Back then, we’d have to find a what where they called…payphone. And scrounge for a quarter. It was a lot of work.
I know she’ll be fine at the fair.
I know my other daughter will be fine riding her beautiful new Schwinn bike to school or walking to the corner to get a mani/pedi.
I know that they will all be fine doing their thing.
I turned out fine. Albeit, a little crazy.
But, like my parents before me, I worry. I can’t help it. It’s par for the course of being a parent.
I think I’m going to need to start buying Tums in bulk for this ulcer in the making.
There is strict. And there is reasonable.
I think I’ll fall somewhere in the middle.