Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Night That Defined Me As A Parent, Part III

part I
part II

I begged Max to please let me go. I told him that I would scream. He backed up after all. So nothing really happened that night, except a lot of talking and Max dashing to the bathroom every half-hour. In the morning, he had circles under his eyes. He told me he'd spent the whole night jacking off. What. A. Gentleman. I am being only half sarcastic here.

I learned a lot of things that night that I was supposed to know as a preteen.

I learned that people do have sex all the time, not just when they need to make babies. I learned that it feels good. I hadn't felt much myself, so I had to trust Max on that one.

I learned that, although I treated men as my friends and equals, some of them will interpret a simple "Hi" as "I want you NOW". They will pounce, and they will later accuse you of having led them on.

I learned that being drunk affects my judgement in ways I'd never thought possible. I learned that a little alcohol is okay, but everyone has a limit. After that limit, a person starts doing things that he or she will regret the next morning. I learned that knowing your limit is of life-and-death importance.

I also learned that, when a guy invites you to his apartment for coffee, you should say no, unless you prefer your coffee with a lot of cream. Most cases, you're better off brewing your own.

Max walked me out of the apartment, and I went to my aunt's place to catch up on lost sleep. I felt shocked and betrayed. Not by Max, though.

I felt betrayed by my own parents. Why didn't I know any of these things? Why did I leave home and start life on my own not knowing any of them? Most kids do pick this knowledge up on the streets. But my parents knew damn well I wasn't one of those kids, not by a long shot. Why didn't they tell me? Why did they leave it to me to find out the hard way? I realized I'd gotten off incredibly easy. Not everyone has the manners Max did. I could have been raped, or dead.

Is it worth it, preserving your child's innocence to an unnatural age of 17? Yes, short-term it looks pretty awesome. The kid stays out of trouble till graduation, and then she moves out and she's on her own and no longer your problem. But aren't we raising our children for the long-term? We need to stop and ask ourselves, what is our first priority as a parent? Is it to have an easy child, a baby that sleeps through the night, a toddler that never says "no", a teenager that obeys your every command, no questions asked. Or is it to raise a person who is capable of living independently, realizing his or her potential to the fullest, and being a person others want to be friends with? I chose the second. I've seen people who earnestly choose the first.

So that was what got me thinking, and that was how a decade later, I ended up exposing my children to things and concepts a mother does not usually expose her kids. Nothing extreme; I just let them watch certain shows and read certain books, and regaled them with real-life stories that a mother doesn't always share with her children, including this one. I caught a lot of flak for it, but it is working so far.

Most importantly, I never lied to my kids. No matter what the question, my answers were the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but truth. Sometimes that meant saying things that made me cringe inside. Oh well. Nobody said parenting was going to be easy.

When I was 20, I stopped at a small café in the area to grab a bite, and ran into Max. After we caught up on the past three years, the sad little man had the nerve to proposition me. I think of Max sometimes. It comes as a shocking realization to me that the man is now fifty-two years old. Is he still single? What is he doing? I hope he hasn't tried anymore shit with underage teens. That's the stuff that gets you ass-raped in jail. It suddenly hit me as I was typing this post, Max's Mom dropped the ball on parenting just as badly, if not worse, as my parents did. Otherwise why did he even try it with me. So here is another thing to teach your sons. Is it easy? No. Is it necessary? I believe that it is.

Slimeball that he was, though, Max is reponsible for my parenting style, and, indirectly, for the way my sons have turned out this far.

This post is my way of saying thanks.

The Goldie has spoken at 1:01 PM

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