Tag Archives: young adults

A Momoir, Chapter 9: Parenting Horrific Behavior. Would You Know? Could You?

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Usually around this time of year I become a bit melancholy.  It’s not seasonal blues, like those stomach flutters that used to surface with the sounds of the late summer Levi’s commercial coming from the console.  This anniversary month of my mom’s passing always seems to bring intense reflection, like an internal clock tower that sounds bells alerting me that another year has passed without her.  As if I could forget.  Without fail, August always makes me think of what she’s been missing.  It also makes ponder how I’m doing as a mom.

 

While I’m typically a little subdued to begin with, this year in particular finds the universal mood not helping.  Still absorbing the recent dreadful news of multiple mass shootings at the hands of young adults, I then scrolled across other appallingly awful headlines:

“17-Year-Old Kills Cat with Bow and Arrow”

“2 Teens Throw 6-Year-Old Off Museum Roof”

“Teen Expelled, Arrested for Racist Gun Video, Says He ‘Hates Blacks’”

 

What in the flying fkkkk is going on?

 

I’m a pretty avid fan of true-crime (not a podcast band-wagoner but a legit 1980s Ann Rule aficionado) and I know horrific, unspeakable acts of violence have been going on for decades.  The only difference is now we hear about them daily (thank you, Internet & frenzied mosh-pit of media).  Seems these stories are appearing more and more frequently and the sheer amount of young perpetrators is more than a little unnerving.

 

As a mother, my thoughts inevitably turn to the parents of the accused.  How did they – how could they –  not know something was seriously, horrifyingly amiss with their kids?

 

I think I’d know.

 

I think I’d know if my kid was hurting animals.

 

I think I’d know if my kid was using (stockpiling, fantasizing over, obsessing about) guns.

 

I think I’d know if my kid was hateful. Or racist. Or intolerant. Or more than just a typical, idiotic, sowing-his-oats-with-stupidity adolescent.

 

I would know.  I’m sure of it.

 

I’d know because at the risk of being incredibly disliked by my kids, I’ve always set boundaries.  Boundaries that distinctly indicated right and wrong behavior.  Boundaries that let them know when a line was crossed.  Boundaries that specified exactly what was not going to be tolerated and why.

 

I even utilized rudimentary (okay sure, judgmental) boundaries that also offered acceptable and unacceptable suggestions about societal presentation.  Take tattoos.  I don’t dislike tattoos and most of my loved ones sport them.  Some are even 100% mandatory (crushing your 1st NYC marathon at age 50?  Ink up, my rock star husband!).  But I’ve never allowed my kids to have them – unless they wanted to relinquish rent-free living in my home.

Why?

 

Because along with the obvious (if a kid has money to burn on body art shouldn’t a kid have money to contribute to my groceries or Game of Thrones bill?), I also believe kids are super dumb and shouldn’t have to pay penance forever for all the super dumb decisions they make in youth.  I remember exactly what I said to my daughter’s emotional appeal while in high school:  You don’t even wear the same clothes you did four months ago that you (*shriek) loved and had to have.  What makes you think you’re going to (*shriek) love a tattoo at 25 that you picked out at 18?   Please.

 

But here was my real reason:  Teens and young adults have enough going against them without the side-eye of a judgmental society. It was my mantra:  Life is hard enough, don’t do anything to limit your options.

 

Wait on it, I urged all my kids (so far, they have.)  And good grief, unless you’re outdoors braving the elements, lose that ridiculous hoodie.

 

I had a recent conversation about boundaries with my son (you know, a conversation about why I was being the buzzkill parent saying NO for the umpteenth time).  I told him about the father and teenage son I watched walking into a store ahead of me.  The waistband of the kid’s pants hung just underneath his buttocks.  I admitted to my son that my second thought (the first being, hmmph, I didn’t know that was still a thing) was, that poor kid.  That poor kid doesn’t have one worthy adult in his life to look at him and say, “Pull your pants up, you look like an idiot” and that was incredibly sad to me.  It made me wonder what else he was allowed to do unchallenged in his home.

 

I then told him about a cashier I recently encountered.  It was at an icky thrift store (which – disclaimer and stone cold admission —  I do NOT care for.  I went in with a friend who absolutely loves them.  Blecchh.  Sorry, I yam what I yam. I don’t like those and I don’t go to yard sales. I’m a Walmart gal through and through:  I’d rather buy it cheap and new than cheap and used.  Meh. We all have our thing.  Leave me to my draft beer in a plastic cup thankyouverymuch).  Anyway, here was this young man:  facial tattoos, spiked hair a foot high, earlobe plugs the size of teacup saucers chained to his nostril hoops … you get the picture.  It was truly the stuff of parental nightmares. The thing is, I felt really bad for him, too.  Was there not one voice of reason in his life to ever say,  Kid, what say you pump the brakes on that idea?   Or, How about waiting until you’re older to permanently scar your body.  Or even, No, you will not visit your grandmother looking like that, go upstairs and change.

 

I wondered, did any adult ever forewarn these kids about limiting their options in life?

 

Please, oh please, see my big picture here.  I am in no way connecting dots to declare that kids with ass-draggy pants and tattoos are all growing up to be gun-toting, hate-spewing mass murderers.  My kids are far from pillars of society and I am actively in the trenches of vaping and weed and booze … Really — a soapbox I have none.

 

I just think maybe we can start someplace small with giving kids the boundaries they need, even crave.

 

If I can sustain countless arguments holding firm on the small stuff – the piercings, the rainbow-brite hair, the endless sleepovers, the curfews and – my favorite — the relentless “you’re the ONLY parent who does this” nonsense … you can bet your sweet ass I’d have a thing or two to say about my kid walking around in a trench coat.  Or brooding around longer than what Dr. Phil would deem typical.  Or talking back to a teacher.  Or bus driver.  Or any adult.

 

Killing children.  Killing pets.  Spewing hate.  Hiding guns.  Using guns.

 

I’m really struggling with it.  Where does it start?  How do parents not know?

 

How could you not know?

 

I would know.  And if she was still here, my mom would know, too.

 

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Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

 

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A Momoir, Chapter 8: High School Graduation – My Big Fat So What

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I’ve reached the parenting milestone where every one of my kids is an adult but I’m quickly finding out my reaction to this coup may not exactly be the norm.

 

(Really Tina, you don’t say.)

 

As my youngest’s high school graduation loomed recently I became increasingly curious as the emotional Facebook posts amplified with fervor on my feed … while I continued to post apeshit OMGs over every Game of Thrones episode.  At my attendance at each of the requisite senior assemblies I watched as other moms passed around tissues … while I checked my watch, gauging my arrival to work.

 

I scrolled daily.

 

Where did the time go???? (multiple punctuation marks)

 

I just can’t believe it! (multiple sad emojis)

 

So proud! (picture, picture, picture, pic…)

 

And there I was, still tilting my head (posting IN MY MIND of course because I ain’t that troll spitting on others’ sunshine) and musing  Um, we’re all still talking about high school, right? Um, isn’t this supposed to happen?

 

Maybe there was something wrong with me.  Had I become world-weary?  Jaded?  Cynical?  I mean, for a school career, my kid had a pretty great run.  He did well academically, he had impressive moments on the field and he garnered a few local headlines that at times placed him above his peers.  Kudos.  Back pat.  Way to go.

 

Now, move on.

 

I’m sorry (not sorry) it’s just never been something I’ve ever thought was a big deal.  In fact it’s been unconditionally expected for all of my kids.  Truth:  They all came from a stable foundation, had a roof over their heads, food on their tables and parents who kept external stressors to a minimum during their educational run.  Getting through high school was their only job and while I enjoyed every moment on a bleacher and duly scrapbooked every news clipping, plainly put, I’m over it.

 

And (more truth): now more incredibly excited to see what they’ll all do when left to their own machinations.

 

There are certain moments I’ll always remember and keep in the forefront of my memory (God willing, despite being incapable of remembering where I was last week or where I filed those donation receipts) but there is without question one Mom Moment that I will hold onto for a very, very long time (you know, until the moment gets taken over by this kid running NASA or curing cancer or I don’t know, taking out the trash without being asked).

 

My paramount takeaway from my final kid’s high school experience was actually my own experience during his last hurrah, at his last assembly.  As the graduating class walked in, swishing in their robes, past the parents, and onto the stage, I (looked up from my watch, naturally and) caught a glimpse of some other parents as he walked by.  We live in a small Norm-from-Cheers town, where everybody knows your name and most, if not all, parents know each other by a history of six degrees of K-12 separation (or siblings).   Many of these parents – better than me, who’d arrived early and had scored the enviable, photography-worthy aisle seats (unlike myself, sitting in the back, closer to my car) watched as my kid walked by.  As he did, and since I had the panoramic of the auditorium from my vantage point in the back (totally planned) I caught sight of some parents and saw their smiles broaden.  I scanned some more faces and saw it repeated, and witnessed the creases in their crow’s feet deepen, too.  Some others applauded more heartily and fist bumped as he passed.   My insides swelled.  There was such tremendous and genuine affection and fondness in their expressions I found myself only watching the crowd as he passed.  Those that know him were beaming and it was a vision I will never, ever forget (memory be damned – it’s in a blog now   — #internetforever).

 

I don’t think anything could ever make me any prouder as a parent.

 

(In fact as soon as those wet towels are picked up I am soooo posting about it.)

 

Without question, I highly recommend reading the room whenever your kid walks in.  It just may give you all the validation you’ll ever need in life.

 

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Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

 

A Momoir, Chapter 7: Hello, Happiness? Are you out there? Hello? Hello…?

happy

A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

Despite being traced as far back as Jackie Kennedy, likely even earlier, I’d never heard this saying until my sister nonchalantly said it over Thanksgiving. My mind keeps coming back to it because it’s actually quite profound if you think about it. These days especially.

Why? Because as I’m finding out, a lot of kids really aren’t that happy. And if that saying holds any truth … good grief. There goes my dream of stress-free evenings of karaoke in my retirement village because there’s a fair chance I may be fretting forever.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately for good reason. With four kids in varying stages of young-adulthood there’s a smattering of unhappiness in my family on any given day. I can’t seem to keep up with it and most days I don’t know how to make it go away. As all moms know, the feeling of helplessness is the worst.

On the surface, my kids have lived fairly mundane, non-traumatic lives. Typical extraneous factors aside (not making a coveted team, middle school bullying, romantic heartbreak) they’ve all encountered life’s disappointments with little residual scarring. It might’ve helped that most of their setbacks were met with my steely shrugs. Hell, they were taught at an early age that toys from the dollar store would not last the car ride home: yes, you can have it but no crying when it breaks, k? Dry those eyes, get that chin up and move on. It’s not the end of the world. This too shall pass. Glass half full.

You get the picture.

But it seems my tough tactics notwithstanding, things got a little muddy in between SATs and graduation gowns. The Expectation vs. Reality of the real world is crippling our young adults and now I — and dozens of friends — are finding ourselves helping them navigate a reality they have been utterly unprepared for. I know plenty of kids (“kids” in their twenties) who are floundering, feeling unfulfilled, filing away their diplomas to work as bartenders and nannies and quitting six figure salary jobs because they’re just not happy. Um, what?

This confounds me for when I think back at my own young-adult journey it didn’t seem so … I don’t know, difficult. After turning my back on the circus that was high school (because hello, high school is a circus for every generation. Period.) I went off to college – where I stayed for four straight years: dropping classes, adding classes, switching majors, drinking too much, kissing wrong guys, coming home at Christmas because … everyone did. Three days after graduation I pounded the pavement with a neat stack of freshly typed resumes under my arm and took the first job offer that came. Thus began Chapter One of My So-Called Adult Life.

It was 1988 and we were all following the bread crumbs sprinkled by Gordon Gekko and Tess McGill (“….Leeeeeeeeeeet the river ruuuuuuuun!”) and when those first jobs sucked (at $14k a year most did), we typed up new resumes and got new ones. Chin up, move on.

We didn’t backpack through Europe. We didn’t take a gap year. We didn’t even come home from college until they closed the dorms on us. Today, if I had a dollar for every kid I know that went off to college and didn’t finish out the year (one of my own included) lord, I’d have some purdy nice things to unload on Ebay.

Sadly, our kids are setting out to find euphoric satisfaction in life and they’re becoming disillusioned to discover that is a most elusive achievement.

Recently I had a conversation with my daughter (23). I’ve written of her before because she is a brilliant being and a remarkable soul. She finished college in less than four years and is, ahem, no dummy. Currently she’s living across the country, experiencing the beauty of other regions, seeking her own life satisfaction and is – for the most part — happy. But she shared a thought with me that pointed out this dilemma rather succinctly. She said her generation has been groomed (thank you, Ted Talks and progressive professors) to be bold and follow their dreams. To engage in their passions. To focus on what makes them happy and just do it.

Yet what she and her friends are finding – all these years later – is that their passionate happy dreams … are not exactly paying their bills. Life, it turns out, is expensive. Some are becoming slowly cynical by this stark realization and finding themselves in a Now what? conundrum.

What’s so wrong with following your passion on the weekends? she mused.

I concurred and admitted that while I love to write, if I was forced to stare at my laptop and do it every single day I might begin to loathe it. Then I reminded her that most adults (cough, my age) don’t go skipping off to their jobs each morning singing songs and shitting confetti on their way but most would agree we’re happy nonetheless. Chin up, move on.

Her remarks made me believe that – despite the constant worry that comes with parenting a child from afar – the kid’s going to be alright. Luckily, she’s starting to get it (soooooo, talk to your bothers, will ya?).

Still, it got me thinking. Since all these grand ideas about happiness being force-fed into youthful minds are not turning out to be so grand after all, maybe there needs to be some menu changes on that advice buffet they’re chowing on.

For starters, we’re insisting that kids select college majors while they’re still in high school. That is absurd. The sheer amount of times my kids change their clothing or hair styles leaves me doubtful they’d ever stick with any decision that seemed like a good idea at 16 or 17.

We’re also jumping aboard a crazy train when it comes time for college applications. Here’s a thought: if a kid can barely get him/herself up and off to school – FOR FREE – what makes any parent think it’ll happen when they’re hundreds of miles away with thousands of dollars on the line and a gazillion other distractions?

Funny. We’re telling kids to go off and journey to find their life happiness when they’ve never used public transportation … or written out a check … or paid a bill … or even fully understand the words remit, interest, fee

I don’t know. Today is not the day I can solve this problem. It just seemed a helluva lot easier being content when we were blindly following the Brat Pack and dreaming about DeLoreans.

I keep my fingers crossed that my kids will come to learn that their road to happiness is winding and full of red lights …

… and that sometimes being stuck in a traffic jam allows a person some needed time to think about the direction s/he’s headed in …

… and that it’s always okay to change your course. Always.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. And @Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/