When was the last time you did anything new? Some activity or avocation that you’ve never, ever tried before, or a place you finally got to visit that you never thought you would? Anyone? Moms? And wiping a particularly large poo doesn’t count…
The last time I did anything truly new it was 1997 and I left Melbourne, Australia and moved to New York City by myself knowing two people and with nowhere to stay past one month. But even that got old as I continued the same self-destructive, promiscuous, unhealthy lifestyle I had had at home. My Big Apple had a worm in it, and I was the worm.
Fifteen years later, here I am the paragon of responsibility (ha) and not only did that go fast, but the kids’ summer vacation is almost over and it really whizzed by. Since the start of the summer our boys (between them) have played baseball, basketball, chess and tennis, gone swimming, and broken records for back flips, somersaults and handstands into the water, escaping with only one potential scar on a very tanned back.
They got a new puppy, iPhones they bought themselves with birthday money, cracked an iPhone screen for the very first time, and visited the Grand Canyon, Zion national park, Lake Powell, driven through Las Vegas at night (“Wow – Vegas is evil”) and seen the first Spiderman movie, even though they admitted it was “violent and inappropriate but I like violence.”
The most inspiring week was this last one, where on Monday they barely wanted to get their faces wet in the ocean and I had to say things like “Well guys you already have the long hair, you may as well learn to surf…” to standing up on their own boards today!
Children are so resilient and adventurous and brave that they never even stop to consider things like drowning or boards hitting them on the head or brushing by disgusting sea slugs (another first) as deterrents. They don’t even remember it the next day when they are incredibly mean to their mothers and yell at them in front of everybody (including the hot surf instructor who mommy will never, ever get to see naked) to “Go away, I don’t want you here,” and scream that it’s cold and their wetsuit is itchy and it’s “all your fault.” They don’t remember then crying at home for 45 minutes that said mother has “Hurt my feelings” and “Nobody likes me” and “Surfing isn’t even that fun.” For 900 bucks it better be fun, you spoiled rotten, overly-indulged, white-privileged little shit. Hypothetically of course.
So I didn’t go watch the that particular son of ours surf live and in person today and slept through the morning like a pathetic, ugly beached sea slug instead of going to the beach to watch. Of course Wonder Dad was on hand to record the proceedings, but it’s not the same. I could not shake off the resentment and hurt of yesterday and suit up and show up at the beach to cheer on my kids because I was still holding onto how he treated me and on a whole lot of other yesterdays that he has bounced back from (maybe) but I have not. Being a victim is just so familiar and fun – more fun that surfing even – and clearly my son knows that too.
So this is what makes this the “I’m a Bad Parent Part 57” post. Because the newest new thing I’d like to try, is not surfing or parasailing or Go Karts. Nor is there a country or state left on earth that I cannot die before I get to visit. But I would like to try forgiveness and perspective and loving detachment from the actions and words of the under 10 set. And not projecting ever single thing my kids do into a disastrous future where they are already throwing up in a gutter after their first heroin shot: because of something I’ve done or failed to do.
It’s the end of the summer and I’m tremendously proud of what they’ve achieved. And one day I will try that other new thing that I have never ever been consistently able to manage – being proud of myself.