Friday, March 6, 2009

Parenting is Nothing But Blind Luck.....

That's an expression I've used many times over the years.

Parenting is nothing but blind luck.

That should be fair warning for those of you who gnash your teeth and lose sleep over making the right decisions regarding your children's upbringing.

It doesn't matter.

I'm convinced they will turn out the way they will turn out.

I had a good friend in high school who was a VERY good girl. As in G-O-O-D. Could do no wrong. She didn't DARE do any wrong, because her father was the superintendent of schools. In our small town, that gave her no wiggle room to screw up.

When we were seniors in high school, we often studied together for our trig class. She had to study a little harder than I did, but she also cared a little more about her grades than I did. It wasn't that I didn't care.....but I didn't have to work very hard to get grades in the high 90's.

One semester we found out only about an hour before our trig final that our teacher was going to let us use our notes on the exam. My friend, whom I'll call Shelley, looked at me with something akin to panic and said, "I left my notebook at home!"

"Get in the car," I said, "we'll go get it."

"My daddy will kill me if I skip school!"

"Your daddy is going to kill you if you fail that trig final, too."

She was convinced, and we jumped in my car to go get her notebook.

She was a good girl, but she wasn't obnoxious about it. She was a cheerleader and dated one of the football stars on our mediocre team. In the 10th grade (during math class, no less), she picked out her wedding date, which was after her graduation from college.

She missed it by a week. And they're still married.

She was a journalism major, and after graduation she and her new husband moved to a town in South Georgia, where there was one television station. She got a job there, of course. She immediately decided that instead of the 5 children she had planned on, she would have none, wanting a career in television.

Then along came child #1. (I never got the chance to say "I told you so." When I asked her about birth control, she said, "I'm gonna let him worry about that." Hmph.)

A couple of years later along came child #2, they moved to the Atlanta area, and she was out of television forever. She chose to be a stay-at-home mom, a role I admire greatly, and she still looks exactly like she did when we graduated from high school. I try not to hate her for that.

If there's anything I get satisfaction from, it's the fact that I'm the only person in our graduating class who is younger than she is. We both skipped a grade, so we were the babies of the class. Her birthday is in March; mine is in April.

I'm not being ugly when I say how perfect she and her husband are. They look perfect together, they have had perfect career moves, they are just precious.

Their eldest child (a boy), however, was not so precious, at least in his formative years.

He came from parents who didn't smoke or drink, weren't the partying kind, followed the rules, and were generally good citizens.

He was a hellion, at least for a while.

In high school he was arrested for smashing mailboxes while riding in (or driving) a stolen car. He threw a wild party while his parents were out of town, and the police may or may not have been called. But the worst was when it came time for college.

Shelley wailed to me, "The worst thing of all was that his grades weren't good enough to get into Georgia. He had to go to Auburnnnnnnnnnnn!"

Their son has since gotten his act together, has a masters degree and a new bride and a solid career, and looks just like his father.

Their daughter has had a full ride on a cheerleading scholarship and looks just like her mama.

I wasn't such a good girl. If there was a rule, I thought it was meant to be broken. Half the senior class skipped school on MY birthday to go to a local swimming spot, and I felt compelled to jump off the bridge into the river below. I was suspended in the 10th grade for leaving school without permission. When I was on hospital/homebound my senior year because I had mono, the homebound teacher said when she went to get assignments from two of my teachers, they said I didn't come to their classes anymore. (I didn't get the failing grades I deserved.) A large group of us regularly went to bars in the nearby college town. I smoked in the bathroom, regardless of the fact that we had a legal smoking area outside, because we weren't supposed to. Nonetheless, I graduated 8th in my class. It could have been higher if I had cared just a little more.

And my child was as close to perfect as you can imagine. She didn't drink until she was 21, because it was against the law. Even after she was in the Navy, she didn't drink because she WASN'T SUPPOSED TO. Now she's nearing 25, and she still doesn't drink a whole lot. She thinks smoking is disgusting, has never tried drugs, and as far as I know still hadn't had s-e-x when she left for the Navy. I'm not sure about now, but since she's talking about getting married, I can only assume..... Never mind, I can't go there. And she's at the age where I can't ask.

She's a rule-follower. Perfect for her chosen career. She has bought her own house, a new car, and a dog. At her age I had a college degree, but I also had HER, I was married to her father (shudder), and we didn't know where groceries were going to come from for the week. I wouldn't change a thing if it meant not having her, but I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. I also wasn't as grown as I thought I was.

I'll say it again: Parenting is nothing but blind luck.


Anonymous said...

Holy Crap!

I'm all kinds of scared now!

Maggie said...

I needed to hear this tonight- I think since my son is at a party where this is rumoured to be booze, pot, heroin and he went with his slutty looking girlfriend. Oh sh**... it didn't seem too bad until i wrote it all down...