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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lead By Example, You'll Shock Us All

In our current world, it seems like the adults have forgotten they are adults and have abdicated all responsibility. Doubt me? Look at all of the McMansion Foreclosures, people on public assistance and the state of children in public education. Thought so. Imagine me smirking right here.

My daughter has a friend whose mother is younger than I. In the past few years both of her daughters have learned to drive and thus she has been free to spend her free time as she wishes, not as they wish, being a glorified taxi. So she spends most of her weekends partying like a rock star.

My daughter is under the impression that taxi drivers are people who really like to drive and are more than willing to drive people where they wish to go. She doesn't realize they do it for money. Yet. I'm losing my willingness to drive her everywhere she wishes to be dropped off at. She's unwilling to learn to drive my Rodeo. Hello drivers license at 18, then.

On Facebook I have reconnected with many of the people I knew in high school and college. Most, of them are fantastic people with whom I have no problem whatsoever knowing about their lives. The others don't post enough for me to find out. I'm friendly, I just never pretend that I like ALL people. It's not true, so I figure, why put it out there.

The trend I have noticed is that once children get to a certain point some parents, especially the mothers, lose their minds. Let me state this at the very beginning, I have no desire to starve myself into clothes that are so inappropriate for a woman my age. I have no desire to go to places that play loud music filled with people who smoke and get drunk. I hate loud noises, smokey atmospheres and people who wish to fake reality. I also have no desire to compete with my daughters for men their age. I have a husband who is five years younger than I. I've done my cradle robbing and am happy with the results, thank you.

Why do we try to return to a time in our lives that, while it may have been fun and at times even enjoyable, is best left to the Glory Days file? Why can't we be content in The Now? My working theory is that most of us do not like the people we've grown up to be and take refuge in the person we thought we liked in our early 20's. The now is full of mortgages, college tuition for our kids and perhaps a marriage to a person who was engaging in our 20s but is now dull as dishwater. We think we are exciting and relevant. We think we still have the energy and fortitude to take on partying all night and trying to attend a budget meeting the next morning. In college we could cut class, in adulthood we cannot exactly call in sick every time we hate ourselves.

I want to scream at the women I know who are out there at rock concerts and nightclubs with their children. I see men out, carousing with their sons or younger men, looking at young girls the same age as their daughters and my hand itches to slap the back of a head.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong doing things with your grown children, still trying to connect now that you can be a friend as well as a parent. Attending ball games, enjoying time pursuing a mutual hobby. Those are all healthy things. Mentally and physically healthy. Trying to drop some X while attending a Red Jumpsuit Apparatus concert is not. Stealing your daughter's boyfriend is not. Sleeping with your son's fiancee goes so far into unhealthy mentally and physically that it encroaches on movie worthy.

And yet, here we are.

Stop trying to recapture your youth, it is impossible. You know more now. Especially, how easy it is to fool yourself when your total identity is invested in it. To borrow a phrase from my childhood, stop pretending to be something you're not, and that is 22 years old with nothing more to worry about than whether or not you will pass mid-terms. You have a mortgage, in most cases, and perhaps a marriage, but most importantly, what about your kids? Do you honestly think they are going to respect the person passed out on the couch, half-dressed after a night of heavy partying? Are they going to look at your and say, "I want to be the parent my mom and/or dad was."? Do you want to hold that up as the example of what they can be?

Which dovetails nicely into my eternal rant. For those of you on welfare, public assistance, who think that "playing" the system is getting over on someone... Is this what you want for your kids? Please, tell me you want better for them than living in the Warehouses of Despair. Convince me you want them to get out of the ballot cattle barn. Then YOU show them how to do it, even though you'll have to give up your food stamps, your public housing, and a life of nothing. Only hard work and trying constantly to get ahead gets you out of that life, nothing more. Doubt me? Ask Clarence Thomas how he got through college and law school without leaning on Affirmative Action to do it. Ask Alan Keyes, Colin Powell and Denzel Washington. Ask them if depending on the kindness of strangers is what got them to where they are in the world or if they had to work hard and perhaps go hungry a little to get it done.

The thing you HAVE to remember is that it does get better. You will eventually get to a place where you can sit back, relax and think that you worked hard for everything you have and you will be damned if anyone is going to take it away from you by executive fiat. And you sure as hell are not going to squander it by dropping acid at a Green Day concert just so your kid thinks you're cool.

Here endeth the lesson.

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