April 10, 2019

kids these days

I waited too long to take him to the doctor ... I didn't believe him when he said his throat was so raw that he didn't want to swallow sips of water ... he always plays up his symptoms, so much drama, and I'm the one who gets the texts from school, always, the one who has to be Bad Cop and tell him to stay, see it through, fight it out, make it through the day.  And sometimes it's depression, not a runny nose.  See it through.  Make it through.

Will he make it through?

I signed up for this.

Sort of.

My generation does a shit job of rearing children.  Our kids don't know how to solve the simplest of problems.  They aren't chomping at the bit to get their driver's licenses at sixteen, move out at eighteen and never look back.  They don't care about independence.  The shame of living at home until age thirty has been eroded by our economy and our parenting.

We've protected them unwisely and too well.  The milk cartons turned into curfews.  The curfews turned into omnipresence.  The omnipresence turned into safety standards and rubber mulch, knee pads and hand sanitizer, play dates and books that can tell you if your child is developing as quickly and as well as other children.

I remember when I was seventeen and my car broke down.  It never occurred to me to call my parents.

Is it because cell phones are in our hands now?  Have the means forged the expectation that we be in contact, reachable, always?

I don't think so.  Instead of flipping through the grotty Yellow Pages of the phone book dangling from the pay phone by a steel cord, I would have searched the Internet for a towing company nearby.  I would not have considered calling my mother or father.  What good could they do?  I was out in the middle of rural North Carolina, just northeast of nowhere.  Why bother them?  It was my problem.

I signed up for this.  All this driving to school, sitting and waiting during rehearsals, making his life my own life.  This is what we do now.

My mother picked me up after the softball games.  She didn't ask me who won.

If his dad and I had dropped The Kid off at soccer practice instead of bringing camping chairs, it would have triggered a call to Protective Services.  He was only ten.

I walked the mile to school when I was ten, because I wanted to.  I had to cross a busy street.

We know we're doing it all wrong.  We know we're not serving their best interest.  But the boulder rolls and we're carried along with it, unable to slow it down, let alone stop it, let alone push it back up the hill.

Have I involved him in enough activities?  His dad and I wanted him to have a free childhood, not scheduled, not overbooked, not focused on molding an attractive college application from the time he hit preschool ... now it's time to apply for college, and he's a gaming addict, and he knows it, and he wishes he could quit, but he can't.  His entire social life is on the Internet.  That's not true.  He was in the play.  He went to the party because he had made friends.  It was the first time he wasn't avoidant of a social situation.  And he got sick there.  They catered dinner and everyone handled the serving utensils.  He got strep throat.

The Kid is home sick today.  The doctor looked at his throat yesterday and winced.

I shouldn't have waited so long to take him to the doctor.  He suffered longer because of me.  

I am a product of my generation.  We don't let our kids suffer.  We don't let them learn to suffer.  We take the suffering on ourselves because we love them.  We love them so much, we hug them so hard, that we squeeze the very life right out of them.


  1. You're a fantastic mother. You've got a fantastic son. You don't 'helicopter' and he (despite having a sore throat) is developing into a wonderful young man.

    I love you - even when you're beating yourself up xo

  2. One time when I was a kid I was so sick, my throat was swollen and I could feel my uvula slap the back of my tongue every time I leaned my head forward. I wrote notes rather than talk. I asked my parents to take me to the doctor and the answer was, "wait one more day and see how you feel." I actually cried with frustration.
    The next day I felt better.
    I'm not sure what my point is... Except I now don't go to the doctor for anything ever and that's probably not good. Maybe my point is, it's good that you took your kid to the doctor at all. Raising little humans isn't easy. They're so devious! Making mistakes is part of it and you made the best choice you could work the information you had.

    1. I wasn't taken to the doctor for anything except school shots ... had hand, foot and mouth disease at eleven and just propped up on the couch for two weeks, until it was gone. I'm just blown away by how much things have changed, and how quickly, since we were skinned-knee kids ourselves. Now ... you, go get a physical.