I’ve got this sinking suspicion that my children have a life beyond me. The other day, my 9 year old told me,”You don’t know everything about me,” and I immediately replied, “Yes I do,” but guys, I think maybe I’m wrong.
You know that thing, now that we’re grownups, when we tell our funny story in front of our aged parents and they’re like, “you did WHAT now?” Well, depending on how aged they are, there might be more questions. I’m pretty sure I’ve told about the time we shot bottle rockets into traffic multiple times but every time my mom is freshly shocked. That might be a different thing.
But in general, when you say, “this one time, (chortle, chortle), we tied the cat to a whole bunch of balloons and threw him out the window*” or, “that time that we sat through 4 movies in a row at the dollar theater” and then we always follow up with, “where were our PARENTS?”, real judgy-like, like we are currently doing better.
In reality, while we are telling funny stories and drinking adult beverages**, our children are somewhere nearby, having a life without us. Mine are still pretty open with me. “Mom, read my journal,” they say, like I didn’t read it the night before while they were drooling on a library copy of Wizard Cats. “Today we went to school,” it reads. “It was fun.” 6 weeks from now I will discover that on “fun day” my child covered another child in leaves and pine needles in what might have been a school escape experiment. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll find that out when I’m 70, sitting calmly in the midst of my grandchildren and their parents, asking “Where were YOU, grandma?” And I won’t know, because my children have a secret life.
In reality, I was right there. I was on the couch when they swung from the staircase on a scarf. I was sitting outside the bathroom when they poured nail polish remover in the bath. I was at the table with them when they put eggnog in their cereal instead of milk. I’m right here, all the time, close enough to get sneezed on and somehow they still have surprises.
I found this apology note a few days ago, about an incident I am unaware of. I’m mostly pleased, because, 1. apology 2. I didn’t have to referee and 3. forgiveness
Sometimes, my children think they are having a secret life, programming the piano to play their song instead of actually playing it, or hiding under the counter and eating all the grapes or poking giant holes in the front yard with a stake they might have pulled out of someone else’s yard- but I do know and I just weighed the options and decided to stay out of it. The trouble is, I think I’m gonna forget which incidences were willful ignorance and which ones were actual ignorance.
But someday, I hope I am sitting on the couch, listening to my kids tell about a full, funny childhood and all the adventures they had while their children have a secret life RIGHT THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF US. Someday, babies. Until then, I’ll just read your journals.
*this story for illustration purposes only
** coffee and name-brand soda