Monday, October 14, 2013

Perfectly Wrong

I was watching "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" with my teenage daughter the other night, when we came to a scene where a boy is offered a brownie at a party, not realizing it was "special."  He ate it and became as high as a kite.  I decided to use this as a teaching moment in the war on the drugs in suburbia.

Me:  "Carolyn, you should never eat brownies at a party."
Her: "Why?"
Me:  "Because they could have drugs in them.  Marijuana is very bad for you - it affects your reproductive organs."
Her:  "Is that why I have red hair?"
Me:  pause ... "Touché"

I'll be honest, I got a lot of pride out of her comedic timing.  Spot on.

But I know what you are thinking.  Yes, I smoked pot in college.  And yes, my daughter knows I did.

So, where does the judgement lie - in the doing or the telling?  Or both?

I have always believed in admitting to my kids about my past mistakes.  How can they talk to me about their thoughts and fears if I am sitting high on a silver cloud of perfection?  And no, the cloud does not smell like pot.  My daughter has always taken it in stride, but my 10-year-old son usually isn't so sure.

Him:  "I heard about Carolyn's joke."
Me:  "Did you?"
Him: "Yeah.  Did you do drugs?"
Me:  "Yes."
Him: "Why?"
Me:  "Well, I was curious, and wanted to fit in, everyone was doing it, and I made bad choices.  If I was the person I am now, I would have never done it."
Him: pause ... "Ok...."

Again with the judgement - because I did it, or because I told?  Or both?

As parents, are we supposed to be perfect or human?

Here's my answer - yes.  We are supposed to be both.  Set the standards, teach the rules, share the expectations, BUT then explain why.  

For example, if you see a little child picking up dog poo, you say, "Yuck, drop it!"
If you see an older child picking up dog poo, you say, "Don't eat that - your mouth will rot!"

The truth is, "because I said so" doesn't work any more. In this world of technology and investigative journalism, people want proof and accountability.  So, I am an open book.  And I hope, by being transparent, that I will spare my children just a few of the mistakes I made.  They will make brand new ones, but hopefully, they won't be made out of fear or ignorance.  And if I do my job right, the timing of their good choices will be impeccable.

Until next time, keep crowin' - and keep it legal!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

7% Uncertain

For my 41st birthday, I received a DNA kit.  Not because I am about to join Maury Povich onstage for the latest edition of "Who's Your Daddy", but because I truly wanted a final answer for the question, "Where did you get that nose?"

My quest to determine my ethnic heritage had, up until this point, been an internal journey.  Since adolescence, whenever someone would ask me where I was REALLY from, I would tell myself, surely, not from here.  The details are sketchy.  My father's father had a mysterious life, and most of his adventures and escapades are lost to time.  My appearance has been ambiguous enough to raise questions from friends and strangers alike, and I have always wished to find the answers.

And so, with a spit deposit in a tube and a postage-paid envelope, I submitted my history to science.

Turns out, I am pretty much a white girl.

According to my saliva, I am:

British Isles                    64%
Scandinavian                  22%
Eastern European            7%
Uncertain                        7%

I was disappointed until I got to that last 7%.  There was my loophole, my life raft.  A little bit of me that can't be determined, a percentage that I get to keep and grow.  7% of me cannot be put in a corner, labeled and ready for delivery.  I get a space on the page to be whatever it is I thought I was, whatever it is I should be.

I can do a lot with 7%.  I can break cycles, tear down walls, reconnect with my heart, and conquer just about anything.  I can navigate my children through the struggles of life, and fall in love with my husband, again and again.  I can overcome crimes committed against me, and learn how to live without fear.  I can be proud of my sacrifices, and strong enough to stop sacrificing.  I can just be.

Sometimes, we lose ourselves so much, we give so much of ourselves to others, that we forget to keep some for ourselves.  I think that was the purpose of the test for me - to show that, no matter what, we all have something inside that can't be touched - it's just for us.

Until next time, keep crowin' and hold on to your 7%!