Friday BARB UP April 28, 2017

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On parenting—in terms of raising a Teenager that is–what I’ve discovered is this: I can’t parent based on how I was raised. And the way I was raised? My parents did what they could with what was available to them. Me, right now, I have to adapt to what’s available to me right now. My parents owned their one-level three bedroom ranch with a sun room, a basement, a front and backyard; I rent my compact apartment. I had chores: I mowed the lawn, I had to deal with the garden and on occasion, I helped my mother with a yard sale. My Teenager has agency over her bedroom, she clears the table on the rare occasion I cook dinner, and when FreshDirect drops off groceries, if I’m not home, she’ll put things away. I drop our laundry off; I reckon this summer, when we have access to a washer/dryer, I will show her how to do laundry. When I left my home, I had to have cash in hand as ATM’s were not invented yet; when my Teenager leaves, I ask her if she has money and if she doesn’t, I advise her to take money out of my wallet. In this case, I always have cash in the wallet, like my Dad did, although the circumstances are ever so different. My Dad was a New York City Taxi Driver and he always had a wad of cash in his front pocket; I just have an ATM. I used to do the dishes, so that I could talk on the phone, which cost money per minute; we have a dishwasher now, there are never dirty dishes in the sink, and phone plans are as much of a succubus today as they were in the 70s. I have a super now to change my lightbulb and when I want to see life, I walk the streets of New York. I don’t drive, I Lyft. I don’t mind if she’s laying in her bed, watching Netflix and/or reviewing her social media feed. I did a version of that as a teen, locked in my room, radio blasting, hiding from my parents. I didn’t want to be around them, in the living room, watching TV. I remember, very clearly, how much I questioned everything. I loved my parents but they were not my anchors. And when I became a parent, I found my way as one, separate from theirs, in the way that was familiar to me. I didn’t settle into life in the burbs, I chose to be in the concrete jungle. I am not wistful about my life as a teen, or how I used to run with scissors or how I used to spend my time. My parents built their lives in Queens. They threw raucous New Years Eve parties and they fought a fuckton. It’s not how I live now and those practices don’t apply to the way life is for my daughter. There is no “in my day” in my home; “my day” is happening right now. I don’t see why I would impose what I knew then upon her now. Values, well that’s another matter, for another post, on another day.

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photo credit: Jason Rice


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