Commentary by Heather Kestian
“Warden!” I would typically yell this word at my mother from the top of the stairs when I was a know-it-all teenager. Most days, I was certain my mother wanted me to be unhappy and not have any fun. She would always say ‘no’ to my seemingly reasonable requests like staying out past midnight when I was fifteen. Of course, I had all the answers and knew that nothing bad ever happens, especially after midnight, despite what my mother would tell me. In fact, I opined that time of day is when the fun starts.
Fast forward a few moons and some tough life lessons, and I have learned I do not have all the answers. Recently, I learned this lesson by hearing what I sounded like so many years ago thanks to my own child. Oh my, did I sound pathetic back then!
One day in the not-too-distant past, my oldest son sat on the floor sobbing and then said, “You don’t want me to be happy! When I have kids, I will never tell them no!” I truly cannot remember what horrible thing I told him he could not do on this particular occasion. It may have been not to climb on the arm of the couch or not to run in the same room as his infant sibling who recently figured out how to crawl. But if you ask my son, my statement made this day “the worst day” of his entire life. I can admit that there is a possibility, however slim, that it may cause thousands of dollars of therapy in twenty years.
In considering his sad statement, I did what any parent who was vying for the coveted “Parent of the Year” award would do – I laughed hysterically. After I composed myself, I shared a couple of observations with my child. First, we can revisit what you would do when you have children of your own – in 25 years. For the record, I cannot wait for this conversation. Second, really, this is the worst day of your life? I politely told him he may need some perspective. Then it dawned on me, I am saying exactly what my mother said to me.
Now that I am older, and sometimes I like to pretend I am wiser, I know that my mother was right. I say this as I have officially become my mother.
Touché, universe, touché.