I don’t remember when I first walked or talked. I don’t remember the first day of kindergarten or first grade or really any one particular day or moment from those very early years of my life.
I do remember failing the big French test in eighth grade. I also remember getting into the big Guess Jeans fight in ninth grade when my mother refused to buy me a pair of the trendy designer jeans and the even bigger fight that followed the next year when I refused to go the party that an old friend of mine was hosting. I insisted on going to the party thrown by a new friend even though my mother told me I would regret my decision one day. I do regret it.
As much as I hate to admit it, my mother was kind of right about all that stuff — except for the Guess Jeans. I was the only girl I knew who never had one single pair of them. Many of my friends had several pairs.
My kids are now at the ages that I can so clearly remember being. I can see their ever developing brains work away as they try and navigate the early-ish teenage years. I sometimes step in when I feel it may be helpful and other times when maybe it’s not so helpful, but I just can’t help myself. I suspect it’s during those times that they may need me most but also that they won’t come to realize that for a very long time — maybe ever.
I tell them about the unfortunate perm I got in eighth grade, which was the same year I spent way too much time and energy trying to be someone else when I should have just stuck to being myself. I think they hear me. They ask really specific questions that sometimes go off track as we weigh the pros and cons of playing a JV sport versus a club sport versus not playing one at all and debate about who had to walk further to get from class to class — a young me or them now.
I realize that although I remember so much of this part that we are getting to — the good, the bad and the ugly (perm!) that my kids will have to figure so much of this part out on their own. I’m there to answer questions or offer advice (solicited and not so much solicited) but I can’t make them see into the future — into the adult perspective that I have, the same one my mother had all those years ago.
I know that we will get into fights for sure. I doubt any fight could turn into the Guess Jeans blow up of 1989. I hope they won’t.
I hope my kids will avoid their own proverbial unfortunate perms, poor decision making in the friend department and the trying to be someone that they are so not.
I hope that one day they will look back on this part and remember it more fondly than not.
And maybe — just maybe — one day when they are all grown up, they will begin to understand that their mother (that’s me!) was right about some things. I actually told my mother that she was right about a bunch of things when she was sick soon before she died. I planned out this big apology to her and even got a little teary. She laughed and told me she couldn’t believe I was still thinking about that stuff.
“It didn’t matter,” she said. “It’s all part of growing up.” She was right about that too.