I Didn’t Realize How Stupid I Was (Until I Had Kids)



BY MELANIE SCOTT

Dear Fellow Parents,

It’s really a great thing that we have children. You know why? Because without them, we’d never realize how stupid we really are. For instance, do you remember bringing your baby home from the hospital for the first time? I do, and I really didn’t realize how intimidating a baby could be. When my daughter came home from the hospital, I distinctly remember looking at her and thinking, “Now what?” I finally figured a few things out, but trust me—she sure let me know if I was doing it wrong.

Flash forward a few years. These kids are really conniving. Once we figure out this nurturing thing, they use it to their advantage between the toddler and early elementary years. This is the very brief, microscopic time of life when they give us the benefit of the doubt and trust that we know a thing or two. Savor these moments.

Don’t get too comfy, though. Like I said, they are conniving and now, they have you just where they want you.

Those days of adoration and thinking you’re awesome are soon going to give way to eye rolls and “Whatevers.”

We’re getting to middle school and if you think for a moment you have a clue—let me set the record straight. You. Do. Not.

I remember driving my daughter and her friend home from school one day when a “Guns ‘n‘ Roses” song came on the radio. I sang along word-for-word. My mortified daughter stared at me in awed disbelief. “How on earth do YOU know this song?” came her incredulous voice as she shamefully glanced over at her friend. Um…I grew up with “Guns ‘n‘ Roses”??? But to her point, I am hardly cool enough to have ever had a life or any outside interests before she was born. And it really was a terrible lapse in judgment to do it in front of her friend.

Then, there was homework. Nothing has ever made me feel as stupid as trying to help my daughter with 6th-grade math. I think it’s pretty universal across the board. It seems logical that 2 + 2 always equals 4, but they’ve totally changed the way kids arrive at the answers, and let’s face it, parents…we’re hopeless, and we’re never going to figure it out. Better hope your kid makes friends with the smartest kid in class. Or is the smartest kid in class. (They probably are, right? After all, they are teaching you on a daily basis!)

Once high school arrived, my daughter knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was completely ignorant of all things that matter in life. “You don’t get it, Mom,” “You wouldn’t understand,” and, “Mom—you don’t know what you’re talking about,” were the standard responses when I dared to voice a suggestion or opinion. But hey! In fairness to her, my 26 years of prior life experience before she was born could hardly hold a candle to a high school girl who knows it all, right?

Then, the day came that my daughter experienced her first major breakup. I wanted to console her, but that was the day I was told, “Mom, you just don’t understand. You’ve never hurt this way before.” To her credit, though, my divorce was a piece of cake next to this kind of anguish. When I, in my feeble attempt to comfort her, told her that, “Time heals all,” I really probably should have just kept my thoughts to myself.

However, I have to tell you, Fellow Parent, I’m a bit worried. My 20-year-old daughter is now on the verge of moving out and living with a friend. She called me to share the news and when I voiced my concern about her budget, she agreed, “Yeah, Mom, I need you to show me how to do that.” I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Is it possible? Could it be, that after 20 years of being the student, she may agree that I could teach HER something?

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, because, let’s face it—I’m probably wrong.

And chances are really good, you’re wrong, too.

Sincerely,

Your fellow parent,

Melanie

 


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