Moving Back In With My Parents


    The first few days at home after the school year serve as a period of adjustment for me. I realize that now I have to people them when I am leaving, where I am going and when I will be back. They tell me when they approve of my clothing and my hairstyle; they certainly do not hesitate to remind me to clean up the leftover toilet paper on our lawn from our preteen neighbor’s tee-peeing excursion or to change the radio station from that “rubbish” polluting my ears.

    Of course, things have changed a little on my end, too. Fully aware of their expectations, I push the boundaries just so, taking care to wear my most “scandalous” pair of jeans, leaving my hair tousled and messy and eating as much trash as I can find in the pantry. I make sure to come home a little later than what they’re comfortable with, and make phone calls to mysterious friends just loud enough for them to hear.

    I remember high school very clearly, when teen rebellion was at its peak. Everyone wanted the “cool” parents, the ones who did not give you a curfew, who let you have parties in the basement and would not tell the other parents, who went shopping with you for clothes that they should have yelled at you for buying.

    These were not the parents I grew up with. I had the parents who made me call when I arrived at my destination and when I was leaving it, who thought my friends with boyfriends were a bad influence on me, who thought a shirt that showed my belt was risqué. My parents were parents. They were not drinking buddies, shopping company, fellow gossipers.

    In this weird gap between adolescence and official adulthood, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, between protection and autonomy, I have thought a lot about what it means to be a parent and what it means to be a child. I thought one day that things would magically change; they would respect me as a fully independent adult and I would respect them for their wisdom and guidance.

    It seems that neither has really happened, at least not fully. Things have shifted a bit. I worry when they say they will call me back and do not, when they cough a little longer after eating something too hot, when they do not wear their seatbelt. I know that 10 or 15 years from now, I will be even more protective, checking their health, their finances, the safety of their neighborhood.

    But, the dynamic will never shift completely. We are stuck in this continuum, moving left and then right, one party becoming protective, guiding, the teacher, and the other being taken care of, the student, and naïve. From the time we crawl to the time we push wheelchairs, the roles we assume are never static. Instead, we maintain a balance with our parents, being caretaker and taken care of all at once.

    Now I feel I got a good deal with my parents. Sure they were not renegades and rebels, but really, neither am I. I’m sure those kids with parents for friends turned out just fine, but I had enough friends. I needed parents. And strangely enough, I think it worked out for my parents too. They’ve got enough contemporaries; maybe they needed a kid.

    I won’t lie; I get irritated with my parents and I promise you they feel the same way about me sometimes. But, I encourage you to take a moment the next time you feel the same way my parents and I often feel about each other. Relax and remember that this is just one grain of sand in the hourglass. As much as we lament that the good moments pass too quickly, be thankful that the bad ones are just as short. It’s only a matter of time before we switch roles and wind up in the driver’s seat. Don’t forget: Once in awhile, it’s nice to be the passenger and have someone else at the wheel.

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