A belated response to February Vacation Week

March 21, 2006 at 5:03 am (Uncategorized)

This is that odd Massachusetts practice of setting all of the children in the city…or is it – god forbid – the state?…loose on the vacation spots of the world at once. All of Wellesley High and Boston Latin, along with their retinue of SAT tutors, nannies for the younger siblings, and sometimes even the parents, are off to St. Lucia or the Caymans or Atlantis in the Bahamas. Many of the kids from Western Mass. (generally I think this means west of Worcester, but to me it’s anything more than 20 miles west of the Old North
Church), have taken this week to explore Boston.

Wandering around the cafeteria at work yesterday was like wading through a pool of human birth control. I actually saw a red head with freckles throwing a mini-tantrum – a tantrumette, if you will – because her mother wouldn’t let her have a soda. In the massive freight elevator another one ran across and back, slamming into the padded wall before turning around with surprising agility to seek out its opposite.

As I read a particularly memorable passage in this month’s book club book, I’m struck by an epiphany. Part of the reason I’m terrified of having children (beyond the pain and shitting-on-the-table of childbirth), has always been my fear of screwing them up entirely. Even if you’re a great parent, you have basically a 50/50 shot at producing fucked up kids. As I read, I realized my fear was deeper than that. I’m scared I’ll fuck them up and they’ll hate me for it. Much like I’d rather be the dumpee than the dumper (maybe it’s an odd sort of survivor’s guilt?), I’d rather be the one hurt than the one hurting someone else’s feelings. I know I’ve hurt my parents in the midst of 13-year-old evilness or teenage angst. I know asking my dad to drop me off a block from school hurt him. Telling my mom to butt out when she suggested I give Geeky Nice Boy a chance was perhaps a little cruel (he turned out to be a rather creepy stalker, by the way, but that’s beside the point). I know the times I shied away from hugs and said mean things just to win an argument must have broken their heart a few times, or at least produced hairline fractures. And I’m not even fucked up (despite any evidence to the contrary). I’m scared to death of that phase in my kids’ development when I am everything they want to get away from and rebel against. I’m at an age where my parents are cool again. And I love them. I really LOVE them – as in appreciate, honor, respect, even admire. I’m beginning to understand the sacrifices they made, the thought, the effort, the love they put into raising me. Moreover, we’re friends. This didn’t happen (nor do I really think it should) until I graduated from college, but now that I’m at an age where I actually need to start making some considerations about my personal contribution to the generation that will come after me, I am terrified of that time, years into the future, when my children will hate me. It’s inevitable. How does anyone ever get over that?

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3 Comments

  1. winnekat said,

    I am a huge proponent of the dumpee-over-dumper stuff. In fact, I have NEVER been the dumper. (Which is a problem in itself…I just wait until the situation is so incredibly bad that the other person has to take action. Ugh. Avoidance is my middle name.)

    And I have a fantastic story about the shitting-on-the-table part of childhood. But I should tell you in a less public forum. (It’s not gross, it’s just something that I was worried about when I was, like, 5, and what my mom said to me to make me less worried.)

  2. winnekat said,

    Um, that’s childBIRTH, not childHOOD. Whoops.

  3. BS said,

    Oh admit it Kate, you ran around shitting on tables as a kid, didn’t you!

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