Lacy Johnson

Not too long ago, I took a road trip with a friend and my daughter up around the North Shore. A nice weekend drive. My daughter, 9 at the time, was a pretty good road trip guru in training. She knew that you use the bathroom at every stop, you have snacks on the ready, you stay quiet during loud music jams, enjoying the free concert featuring her aunt or myself, sometimes as a duet. And you always bring something to stay busy if you get bored. Pretty good little road tripper. Except … yeah, you knew there had to be an except …

On this particular trip, her word ball was apparently jumbo size. This little girl pretty much talked non-stop. I was impressed that she knew so many words and was able to string together 27 different subjects like they were one. She talked so much that I had to call my mom and apologize to her for my entire childhood – twice. If ever I had doubt that the “wait until you have kids” comments would eventually come true, this road trip removed any doubt. It had me flashing back to being asked to just be quiet for a minute or being called the “chatter box” as a kid. I get it now, Mom, I get it. I never really understood just how much of a mini-me my daughter is. On the brighter side, as I age, I’m not so much into the chattering. I guess maybe we use up our word balls when we are young. So that just leaves maybe another 30 years of her over-sized word balls. 

Then there is my 16-year-old son. Not only should I call and apologize for my entire childhood, I should also send flowers, buy my mom dinner and send her on numerous trips a year. I still don’t think I could apologize enough. Did you know that when your children turn 16, they are instantly the best drivers in the world? They are indestructible and they know everything? So basically, what that says to me is my parenting days are over. According to my son, there is simply nothing else I can teach him. If I attempt to offer any sort of advice, he looks at me like I’m his little sister and know nothing. 

One piece of advice for any parent new to parenting a teen – you must always refrain from saying “Don’t you think I was your age once?” You will immediately receive the “you fell out of a dogs butt” look, then you get, “But you aren’t me, Mom. Geesshh.” Well, I hate to tell ya son, but half of you IS me. 

I want to say I was never the perfect-driving-know-everything-and-more type teenager. But I’m guessing that it is probably not the case. So again, I apologize to Mom for my entire childhood. 

I wonder at what age I need to start apologizing for my adulthood? If my teenager thinks he is already an adult, that counts, right? 

I love my kids and they are the very soul of my existence. Most days I enjoy every second I get to spend with them. But come on, if you’re going to be honest with yourself, how many times have you threatened to put them on the corner with a free sign? And by the way, if you have, it comes back to bite you when your sarcastic teenager asks you to make the sign in bright colors so it isn’t missed. Well played, son. Well played. The saying “one step forward, two steps back” has a whole new meaning when your kids start to use your cunning ways against you. You may have gained ground when they were 5, but as they age, they store that stuff up and use it when you are least expecting it. You tell them you’ve tried to give them away but no one would take them, and they come back with “Maybe they’ve met our family before.” Then you know the tides have changed. You’ve stumbled unknowingly onto a new battlefield. Unchartered territory, my friends. 

However, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. All the achievements, the milestones, the goofy grins, the laughter you share makes it worth every second. And besides, eventually, they become my age, I become my mom’s age and they will be calling me to apologize for their childhoods. Also, I’ll get to send my eventual grandkids home with bags and boxes packed full of stuff I know they will have to constantly pick up. That’s what I’m holding out for. The light at the end of the tunnel. 

In short? Love the time you have. We might groan, argue and let’s be honest, drink a little wine (by a little, I mean bottles) during the childhood years, but I wouldn’t trade a minute. Truest statement ever made is “time goes by too fast.” As much hair as I pull out on a daily basis, I will cherish every moment when they are grown and on their own; I’ll wish I could have it all back. Slow down, Folks. Enjoy the time we have with our kiddos. They’ll be drinking the wine with us before we know it.

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