Parenting: Between a rock and hard place

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There is an inherent risk in writing things down — it’s difficult, once published, to say “I never said that.”

And so of course, a week to the day that I published a piece waxing rhapsodic about our darling son and how he’s “never given me a moment’s worry,” Mr. Wonderful walked into the house put his hands on his hips because he’s cute like that and said, somewhat accusingly, “What did you hit with the car?”

Then we both had a good laugh because that’s ridiculous that he thinks, for even a moment, that I would hide from him the fact that I had backed into something with our car. Everyone knows that I immediately write about it.

I back into things fairly frequently with our car — poles, ditches, retaining walls. You say “deductible.” I say “column fodder.” At the very least, my own ineptitude inevitably should offer me writing prompts.

At that moment, as if scripted in a sitcom, BoyWonder walked into the room. All eyes turned to him as Mr. Wonderful put on his best Stern Father Voice.

“Did you HIT SOMETHING? With the CAR?”

BoyWonder mused on this for a moment and then said, with complete nonchalance, “Oh yeah. I backed over a rock.”

Oh that.

So that is how we ended up having one of those parental conversations that goes something like this if you live in MY house.

Parent: “So you backed over a rock and didn’t think to tell us?”

Him: “I didn’t think it was that bad. I honestly forgot about it.”

Parent: “But you BACKED OVER A ROCK and ‘Forgot’ to check on the damage or mention it?”

Him: Thinking he had a trump card, turns to mom (me) and says “YOU hit things all the time!”

Parent: “IT’S MY CAR!” (This made perfect sense, in my head).

Bigger issue

I was less irritated that it had happened and more concerned that HE seemed so unconcerned. You’re a blessedly comfortable and much loved middle class kid and you just damaged your parent’s car. What do you do? I don’t think on any level the answer should be “forget all about it until reminded the next morning.”

I am pretty proud of my son. He’s an honor roll student, hard working, National Honors Society member on the path to Eagle Scout (knock wood, say a prayer). I’ve never known him to be a liar. People make mistakes. I’m cool with that. This, however, cannot be tolerated.

He has been raised comfortably middle class. Badgering him incessantly prior to his recent birthday I found myself begging “just tell me what you want?”

He finally said, without a hint of pride, just stating a fact, “I can’t think of anything I want for my birthday. You and dad have always given me all I want or need.”

We are proud of that, but there is danger inherent in that, too.

Raising adults

I have long said I am raising adults — not children. If my children were, in fact, to stay children all their lives, I would have done things a lot differently. I would have worried less about character and their ability to make it on their own.

A classic overthinker, I’ve always had my eye on the Big Picture. Think of it this way. You don’t say you are making batter. You say you are making a cake. I wanted to know that my final “product” would be worthy of respecting himself and others.

Expensive lesson

This is why you send your son to find the big shop and get an estimate — so you can hear his aghast reaction when he learns that a “just a scratch” is going to cost $1,200 to repair because you are just a little further along in your journey and know the cost of bumpers and paint.

In the great scheme of things, I will take backing over a rock into some of other things a boy can do. Receipt in hand, he has learned a valuable — and expensive — lesson.

That the cost of trashing your mom’s car go deeper than a scratch.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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