Good Parenting

Y’all, I forgot to post last week. I think trying to do a once a week blog is interfering with my goal of writing something I will one day actually get paid for. So I’m dropping this down to “sporadic” for right now.

But I wanted to tell you two stories that illustrate why my parents are awesome. Their best parenting moments, if you will.

First, my dad. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I got pinkeye for the first time. I know this sounds like absolutely no big deal to anyone since it’s just a piddling little infection that goes away in a couple of days. But I freaked the fuck out about it. I was not a vain teenager; I didn’t spend a lot of time or money or energy on my clothes or hair; I never even learned to do eyeshadow until I worked for Aveda in college and had to. I didn’t really think I was all that pretty and I didn’t try to make myself so.

Or at least that’s what I thought I thought. Until one eye was all red and swollen and goopy. And then I found out where my vanity lived.

My dad was witnessing my freaking out and couldn’t understand it. “But Dad!” I sobbed. “My eyes are my best feature!”

“Really?” my dad said. “I thought it was your wit.”

Perfect Dad moment right there. There was simply nothing better he could have said in that moment, no better way, even, to construct or deliver that sentence. It should be studied in textbooks with titles like “How to Talk to Your Teenage Daughter: A Guide in Building Self-Esteem.”

Now, my mom. The television show “Felicity” started airing when I was a senior in high school, IIRC, and the first episode featured the mom getting all sad that her titular baby girl was heading to college. I, feeling a touch sentimental myself, asked my mom if she would feel that way when I went away to school. She said no. I got a mite offended, but then she said something like, “My job in raising you was to teach you to go away from me. You going to college means I did my job and you’re going on to live your life, pursue your interests, and be an adult. I want you to grow up and go away, because that’s what I want for you. I’ll miss you, but I won’t be sad.”

She insisted on taking me to college sans my father, because she feared, probably correctly, that my father would spend the afternoon schmoozing with other parents and then get all sad and weepy when it was time to go, whereas my mother, who I swear is not British but still only believes in showing sentiment to dogs and horses, would get me unpacked, make sure I had everything I needed, and leave. Which she did. I remember starting to walk her back to her car, and she asked why I was following her, and I said I wanted to say goodbye, and she said, “Oh, please. Give your mother a hug and go.” So I gave my mother a hug and went back to my dorm, soon to be picked up by my aide group leader (read: camp counselor) and on to have lots of fun for four years.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I was back in New Jersey, and my mom, my sister and I went to see that movie with Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman as mother and daughter and then Natalie Portman goes to Brown? And I look over and my mom is crying! We left the movie theater and I said, “Mom! How come you cried when Natalie Portman went to college but not when I did?” And she said, “I did cry. I just did it in the car where you couldn’t see me. I didn’t want you to feel like you had to take care of my emotions on your first day of college. I wanted you to go have your own emotions.”

Good job, Mom.

So what were your parents’ greatest parenting moments?



One thought on “Good Parenting

  1. leah says:

    My parents are very different from yours. For instance, I not only walked my mom to the car that day, I held her hand through the minivan window as the car started moving. Her philosophy, though, was the same as your mom’s. She planted the seed early that I would go away to camp and then to college, even though the former involved listening to me cry every night the year leading up to it. One thing I loved was that, every year at the end of the summer, she made a point of jumping out of the car while it was still moving when she saw me for the first time.

    My favorite with my dad was the day of my junior prom. My mom was working, so my dad had to take me to the hairdresser. My dad is pretty reserved, so I didn’t really know that anything was on his mind. But as we pulled into the driveway, he said, “So, prom’s tonight.” “Yup,” I said. He took a deep breath and said, “Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” I still don’t know if he meant drinking or drugs or sex (none of which were even a possibility) but I always smile when I think about how uncomfortable he must have been and how much he cared and wanted to impart some pearl of wisdom.

    Love your stories, too.

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