Shortly after becoming an instant parent of a teenager in my early thirties, one of the first things I remember doing was phoning my mother to apologize. Yes. I apologized. Every nasty thing I did, said, thought about saying and/or doing; I apologized for. I didn’t go into details. Well lets face it, you never know exactly what she caught on to, and what she may have missed. Right?
It’s not like I was one of the Weasely’s, but I could have taken the oath.
My mother is always gracious and patient with me. I’m not terribly sure if thats a character trait, or something completely between mom and I, but it works for me. Mom listened patiently while I groveled in my own memory of teenage angst and when I stopped to catch my breath, she said “It’s ok, I forgave you long ago.”
When I asked how she managed to not throttle me in my sleep, she said “oh, that was easy, I ignored 60% of the things you did, and 80% of the things you said.”
My mother put me “on ignore!” The nutty thing, looking at this behavior in retrospect; it may have saved my life, at a minimum it saved my relationship with my mother.
I was a little hurt by this, naturally. “Put ME on ignore, I’ll show you!”, I thought. (See! Some things never change.)
A week later, when I was speaking to her again, she clarified her statement. ” I always knew that you were ok, that you weren’t getting into trouble.”
She thought a moment then continued with “Thats not completely true. I knew you were getting into trouble, doing dumb stuff, but I also knew that you could figure it out on your own and get yourself out.”
To be fair, she was always there when I needed to be bailed out, but I had to know when I was in too deep and to ask for help.
She didn’t step in to catch me. She let me fall on my face too. She knew that I would learn far more by trying and failing, than I would if she saved me.
I’m not sure if I mirrored this parenting style or not, but I tried. Ok, busted! About 60% of the time I tried.
I think I did ok. About 80% of the time.