Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Order

It’s the New Year, and it’s finally happened: My “children” (28, 23, & 20) have begun telling me what to do as if they are the authorities and I am the child. I guess I’m lucky it took them this long, but to tell you the truth, I’m in no mood for this role change.
            It all began when I was attempting to learn to do Handstand during my home yoga practice. My eldest son caught me flinging myself against the front door and yelled, “Stop that right now! You’re going to hurt yourself!”
            Why did those words ring with such familiarity? Probably because I’d said them myself at least a million times--to my son. And like my son, I didn’t listen (though I did stop flinging in his presence).
            Not long afterwards, I was sitting in a restaurant with my middle child, waiting for the waitress to bring me my morning cup of decaf. “Why is she taking so long?” I whined. I picked up my empty coffee cup and wiggled it in the air.
            “Settle down now!” my middle son chided. “Calm yourself.”
            What? Didn’t those words sound familiar again? How many times had I told this boy to settle down (and especially in restaurants)? And now he was telling me!
            On the way home he admonished my husband, who was driving: “Speed up here! Sometimes you need to speed up to slow down!”  I laughed as my husband sped up in the left lane and then moved over to the right. Didn’t we teach them to drive?
            Later that evening, my youngest son was sharing a research study with me online. “Read this over,” he instructed. “Do you understand it?"
            “I don’t have a clue what this means,” I admitted.
            He sighed and began explaining the intricate correlation between various chemical components. But he stopped when he noticed that my eyes were glazing over. Gosh, it seemed a lot like those days of yore when he was in elementary school and I tried to talk to him about the plots of my favorite literary novels. "Well," he instructed, "you'd better read this over again on your own time."
            Yes, it has finally come down to this: My children are telling me what to do, just as I once told my parents. I’m not certain why this happens (and I’m sure the exact timing is a bit different for each family) but apparently there’s a tipping point, a point at which  the parent who knows everything becomes an idiotic child, and the child who knew nothing becomes the expert on everything in the world.
            Today when I was doing my handstand against the front door (early in the morning, long before my kids were up to scold me), I realized how much fun it is to go against their wishes. It’s my turn now to be naughty, to get back at them for all the years when they ignored my advice, snuck behind my back, or did stupid, risky things right under my nose (like climbing on top of our garage or sledding down our hill into Main Street, or jumping off beds and breaking their legs, or climbing over fences and breaking their arms, or…well, the list of the crazy things they did is virtually endless).
            Yes, boys, it’s my turn now!  (And I finally understand why my mother never listened to me!)

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