Forgive Us Our Parental Sins
One mom confesseswhen you do the things you vowed you'd never do
I’d be sitting on my bed reading, or talking with a friend on the phone. My kid brother would stand in my doorway—with the door that never completely clicked shut—and poke it open with the tap of a single index finger. “Get out of my room!” I’d thunder in the direction of his smirking face.
“I’m not in your room,” he’d reply. Out of the corner of my eye, I’d see him wave an arm over the threshold, clearly violating the room’s air space. Then a foot. “Ha, ha, I’m in your room,” he’d taunt as I’d slam the door shut, or almost shut.
This routine would cycle in an endless loop until I’d do one of two things. One, spend the rest of the day with my back pressed against the door to keep it closed, or two, I’d choose the option any red-blooded, much-tormented older sibling would pick. I’d slug him. Predictably, after his slugging, he’d cry and run to my parents who would summon and summarily punish me. “You know better than to hit your brother,” a parental person would tut at me, as a wry smile appeared beneath the torrent of my brother’s crocodile tears.
When I was pregnant with my youngest child, I vowed that I’d never unfairly punish my older twins like I had been punished for retaliating against my pain-in-the-butt kid brother. I’d be savvy to the taunting routines and would, before decreeing a punishment for striking one’s younger brother, try to discern the context in which the blow was administered. I wouldn’t melt into a puddle upon seeing my baby, who seemingly didn’t know better, in tears.
Wasn’t I so superior, so much more rational than my parents?
Upon embarking on the journey that is parenthood, many of us righteously utter loads of promises of future parental conduct. We say we will never do the unfair things our parents did. We won’t give our “baby” special treatment. We won’t shoo our children away with the phrase, “Just go play.” We won’t serve food we hated as kids. We won’t use our children as go-betweens while we parents are having a spat. We most certainly won’t embarrass them.
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