dimanche, juin 18

what's my age again?

so i was sitting in the living room this morning with my mama, sipping an au lait and leafing through the weekend paper while 'to kill a mockingbird' played softly in the background.

i came across a feature article written about adults who don't grow up - about the societal changes that have taken place which differentiate parents of *my* generation from parents of ... well... myparents. it talks about how, nowadays, it is quite common to see folks in their thirties hanging out with their kids - going to concerts, downloading music, kitesurfing, snowboarding, you know - all the stuff that i do on a weekly, if not daily, basis. however, the article just kind of illustrates the actuality of it, and fails to delve into the *why*.

why is it that parents are so much 'younger' now? or, more appropriately, i guess, is it considered more acceptable for parents to shrug off the weight of familial roles - to blur the lines between mom and dad and offspring as commonly as it is now to shrug off the traditional gender roles of mom staying home in the kitchen while dad goes to work every day?

or is that what is really happening?

i don't see myself as being my kid's friend. i'm his parent - first and foremost. i do have a much more open relationship with him than i did with my parents - this is something that i've purposefully put in place in an effort to do away with the vast gulf that exists, to this day, between my mom and dad an i. when i was growing up i was dead afraid to be honest with them about anything, because i knew i'd get into trouble. so, whenever i had something painful or stressful to deal with, i just internalized it and pretended it wasn't happening - i didn't have an adult support system. i never wanted to have that happen with the kiddo and i, so i made great efforts to keep the lines of communication open - to make sure that he knows that, even though i may not approve of what he's telling me, i will always listen and be supportive and offer advice or succor to the best of my abilities.

(as an aside, the sister scoffed at the idea that this relationship was something i've built purposefully. she figures it's just the kiddo's nature to be honest. which it is, of course, but let's not kid - his honesty and openness with me is one of my proudest accomplishments as a parent. it's not an easy thing to develop and maintain - especially now that he's 16 going on 32 and thinks he's seen it all. heh. she should just wait till she has kids and realizes how hard it actually is to walk the line between parental panic at what you are being told and calmly and rationally accepting the fact that this *person* beside you has a life of their own and as easily capable of hiding it from you as you are at hiding yours from them. but anyway...)

i don't think that parents should view or treat their kids as their best friends - there has to be a level of detachment. kids still need to know that you are strong enough to guide them through the rough times. when they want friends, they'll go to their peers. they need the discipline and the security that comes from knowing that there is someone with authority who is manning the gates, as it were.

however, i also don't think that, just because a person becomes a parent they should give up their life and their interests. kids shouldn't mean that you have to change who you are. they should enhance your life and give you a new appreciation of the world and the wonders within it. kids can, if you let them, keep you young - they see the world with new perspectives, without the world-weariness of someone who has been there, done that. and they are people - they have opinions and attitudes and interests of their own, and they learn different things and have different perspectives which can only serve to enhance those of whom they choose to share them with.

i know that there are people who don't agree with the way i'm raising my kid. i know that, at times, it's hard for *my* parents to understand. when he was going through such a rough patch a couple of years ago, a woman who knew me kind of remotely told me that it was my fault - that because i worked so much and lived my life the way i have, i was too blame for him being "fucked up" (her words not mine). that was hard to take, at the time, 'cause it spoke to any parent's deepest fear - that your failings as a parent have damaged your children.

but i also know that my son and i have an amazing relationship. i know that he will cancel plans with his friends to hang out with me. i watched him, when we were at the nine inch nails show, make a wall with his body between me and some guys who were totally slam dancing to keep me from getting banged around. i know that he's kind of a momma's boy, even though you'd never know it. and, more than anything, i know he respects me, my opinions, and my intelligence, and he knows that i love him fiercely and will stick by him through anything.

and that, i think, is the most important thing of all.