Oops- I watched the news again!!! Now I know better and am well aware that watching our new sensationalist, ratings driven, and politically slanted (pick a program based on which side you already believe) news media makes my head spin around and look like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. I know this to be a fact, but sometimes I decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and try it again. It’s never a good idea, but my optimistic soul over rules my brain and the result is….. oh a reaction something similar to an atomic bomb of words such as those my southern mama would disown me for actually writing publicly so you will just have to guess.
Now the latest that has seemed to of “Gotten My Goat” (yes gotten my goat is a southern term and it’s appropriate-and no I don’t know the origin so go look it up) is a news special on the college spring break in Panama City. Now this news channel (let’s just call it the channel for the fundamentalist right which for our purposes we’ll just call the Al Jazeera of America) If you are Chicken Little and believe the sky is falling then “By George” this is the channel for you!!
Now anyone my age that has ever gone on a college spring break or a graduation trip with friends without parents knows exactly what happens on those trips and if you have forgotten then shame on you!!! If you are sitting in your home 30 years later saying things like “that wasn’t happening then” or “we didn’t do THAT” or the ever famous LAST WORDS “my child will not” then you have either completely forgotten reality or have found that elusive little ostrich hole to put your head in that keeps eluding me. (trust me I have teenage parasites and I really want that hole) 🙂
The reality is-there is drinking. Yes a lot of drinking. That is what college age kids do on spring break. That’s why they go. Yes- to the mama that thinks little Johnny is perfect- the percentage chance of your perfect son drinking a beer during spring break is probably -oh close to 98%. The chance of him actually hugging a porcelain throne during that week is probably over 50%. Oh and mama of perfect Katie- your chances are about the same, but the toilet hugging probably goes up.
If you will all remember back through the fog of adulthood you will remember a few things. This right of passage consists of waaaaay to many of your friends all crammed into one hotel room (you’re in college and it’s all you can afford). There at least two others sleeping on the floor because there isn’t enough beds or it happens to be a friend from another room who that was just as far as they could make it at that particular moment. The refrigerator is completely full (of mixer and beer) and there is a one loaf of bread and PBJ on the counter. The table has been converted into a compilation of drinking games, and there are empty beer cans -oh in every nook and cranny available. It takes 3 hours and an entire box of trash bags just to clean the room before you leave.
I’m not saying I agree with the right of passage, but I still understand IT IS a right of passage. I’m not saying I want my parasites (kids for those new to me) to participate in the right of passage, but I still understand that after 18 they probably will!! I just hope someone who truly cares about her is nice and holds her hair back and protects her as she sleeps on the bathroom floor. That friend who loves you enough to hold your hair back is a friend for life and I’ve been lucky (or dumb) enough to have a few.
So back to why this program “Got My Goat” It was designed to do nothing, but scare the absolute shit out of every parent in America of any child age 10 to 25. They put a blonde woman (who may be all of 30) out in an entrance to the beach in Panama City right in the middle of Spring Break. Now she just stands there and does interviews as the kids pass. I am sure they stood there for an entire day and we got about a whole 5 minutes. We only saw the drunkest and most disrespectful. (oh- they were there then too) We only heard the drug stories (oh- they were there then too and just like us our little blessings will have to determine there own path) We only heard about the nudity (fyi- there have been girls who were willing to flash their melons longer than we’ve all been alive and will still be here long after we are dead and buried and rolling over in our graves)
Do you think they walked down the beach and showed us the kids having a few beers and playing Frisbee? Of course not!! Do you think they showed us the interviews of respectful kids who said we are just here having fun? Of course not!! They showed us only the scariest, most sensational, and ratings driven and then acted like it was the end of the world as we know it!! Suddenly all the youth in America have gone completely off the rails and OH MY- chicken little the sky is falling!!
Well guess what parents – they are doing exactly the same thing college students have been doing for generations!! There have been disrespectful kids, kids that do drugs, girls who flash, and the standard ole drunken debauchery for as long as there have been college age kids and guess what the sky hasn’t fallen yet and probably won’t this time either. Every person still has to pick their own way. I know you want to think it’s obviously worse, but it’s not! I know you want to believe it’s much scarier now, but it’s not! I know you want to think my child will not, but they will!
Wanna know the funny part to me- 30 years ago our parents were saying the same thing. Wanna know the funniest part to me- 30 years from now those exact same kids who we saw in the news cast will be saying the exact same thing about theirs!
So maybe the only true reality is that spring break is the college age right of passage and the middle aged believing the world is going to hell in a hand basket is the middle age right of passage. Maybe we should put it right up there with loss of testosterone and menopause.
I’ve decided I’m not going to fall for their sensationalism. I’m gonna go for a stroll through memory lane. As I remember the crowded hotel rooms, and beer stained carpets I’m gonna smile. One because of all the precious memories and two because I survived. I survived with wonderful memories and lots of life lessons. Not only did I survive – my parents survived (and trust me there was many a day they thought they wouldn’t) I’m gonna smirk at my parasites who think I’m completely clueless and laugh because they have NO idea. I’m gonna “secretly” laugh when I bust them and smirk when I intentionally don’t because I’ve gotta let them think they’re smart sometimes.
The reality is that the sky isn’t falling it’s just time marching on and it happens to be their turn to make those memories. What I’ve learned is those memories will help them raise their own someday and keep a smirk on their face and trust me since they’ll be paying for their own raising they’ll need it!!!
Everyone has lofty ideal’s when they start out on the joyful journey of parenthood. We all spend the 9 months of pregnancy excited and looking forward to this little bundle of joy which we will love and cherish. We will not and I repeat not say the things our parents said or do some of the things our parents did we did not like. We will negotiate and work out our differences with our children- they will be brilliant right?? . We will hug them and tell them we love them when they misbehave- they will be brilliant right? We will talk and have intelligent conversations with them- they will be brilliant right?
Then the inevitable happens and the child is born. Within the first year you start to have a sneaking suspicion the child may not be brilliant. You spend the whole year working with the child and the first word they truly understand and can say is “NO” and they have no intention of negotiating with you at all. You struggle with trying to explain: that’s dangerous, that’s hot, that’s bad, that’s scary, that will break etc etc etc. The child still looks at you steadfastly and says “NO”. After the negotiations fail you resort back to the tried and true method of – OK I’m bigger than you so I will just move you. This method works every time and you start to think- hmmm- maybe those who have done this before me, might of been on to something 🙂
As they grow they learn new words and start to use your words against you. I was a parent who never spoke baby talk to my children. My eldest was about 2 when we were standing in the grocery store check out line. He had been sitting in the cart through the whole shopping experience and was just about at the end of any 2 year old’s patience limit. He pointed at the ground and said “down”. I said “No” so he pointed again and said “Down” in a more forceful manner. I again said “No” at which point my two and 1/2 year old looked at me and said “Down- mommy that’s not negotiable” Now the negotiable was a little garbled, but hey- I got the point. He stayed in the cart, but I realized he was smart. He wasn’t smart in the way I had expected- more in the way I dreaded.
This new found child intelligence turns quickly into the “WHY” stage. Now for those parents who have not survived the “Why” stage yet- get ready because you will shortly find yourself saying things you never ever expected. The “Why” stage sneaks up on you. As a parent you have spent the last 3 to 4 years teaching this little being who you made all about the world. This little fat faced toddler now thinks you are the most brilliant human on the planet and know everything. My favorite conversation every went something like this:
Chid: Mom- Why does that man have a chainsaw in his truck?
Me: Because he was cutting down a tree (perfectly good explanation- I thought)
Child: Why was he cutting down a tree?
Me: Because it was probably dead (I think I’m doing well)
Child: Why was it dead?
Me: Because some bugs eat trees and they die (OK- now we’re teaching)
Child: Why do they eat trees?
Me: Because just like us they need energy and have to eat
Child: Why? Why? Why?
After the next few why’s and my explanations of each I found myself trying to explain a bugs circulatory system to a 4 year old. Right then and there I learned that sometimes a perfectly acceptable answer is “Just cause”
After the why stage their intelligence suddenly turns into the most evil kind of all. At about 8 to 10 they now have the skills to out negotiate you!! They ask to do something and you say “NO”. They then look at you, with that 4 year old cherub face (which they’ve mastered now) and say “Why?” Being the intelligent parent, who wants to always be reasonable, you spend about 4 to 5 minutes giving them many valid reasons for your decisions. Then something terrifying happens!!! That child- who until now thought you were the smartest person in the world- turns into Matlock, Ally McBeal, and Jack McCoy all rolled into one. He could now, at 9 years old, get a job in any court room in the land. He’s arguments are brilliant, valid, and worst of all – better than yours. You try to negotiate, but somewhere around 30 minutes in you realize by the smirk on the little shits face- you are beaten.
This is when you learn the most important and tried and true lesson of parenthood that has been passed from generation to generation. This lesson is painful to learn because it goes against EVERYTHING you believed while you carried them and changed their cute little diapers. It is a beautifully simple statement with no negotiations possible. They hate it because it seems sooo unfair. A perfectly good explanation to any child’s question is “BECAUSE I AM YOUR MOTHER AND I SAID SO!!”