An unfinished high school renovation project has left Boy Esquire with an extra two weeks of summer vacation. For the next 12 days, it will be just the two of us.
could get ugly presents an opportunity for what parenting books refer to as "quality time."
I don't make a habit of reading parenting books, at least not past the book jacket, but I hear stuff. I sometimes make plans to read them, but let's be honest: unless you have an unlimited amount of reading time, you'd be a fool to put down Graham Greene, Grace Paley or Cormac McCarthy for Parent Effectiveness Training.
This is not to say that all parenting manuals make for dull reading; William Golding's 1954 parenting classic, Lord of the Flies, is as good as they come, but sadly, it is the exception to the genre.
On the other hand, if people make a habit of giving you parenting books with progressively more alarming titles, (The Idiot's Guide to Parenting Your Maladjusted Brat) it is safe to assume that your parenting style could use some tweaking. And so, quality time.
We begin at the grocery store, which, as part of a newly discovered fascination with food, is at the top of his list of Things to Do. He is hungry all the time these days, and at 14, no longer trusts me to keep him properly fed. Also it is the only activity that fits into our conflicting schedules - he doesn't get up until noon and I can't stay awake past 10 p.m.
"Trust me mom," he says, loading a half-gallon of overpriced chocolate milk in a pretentiously vintage glass bottle into the cart. "This stuff tastes so much better than the crap you buy."
Maybe because they loaded it with chocolate and sugar, I say.
His friend's family has this milk delivered to their doorstep right across the street. Why don't we?
Really? I say. The neighbors have a milkman? There is still such a thing as a milkman?
There is so much I don't know. I buy all the wrong food, prepare all the wrong meals, listen to all the wrong music, say all the wrong things. To sum up: I have been doing it all wrong.
"You and Dad don't understand quality," the teenager tells me.
Which does not bode well for quality time.
Photo: The champagne of dairy products.
I believe all the renovations have been completed here:
Posted by: Robert Kuntz | August 28, 2009 at 12:36 PM
Hell I love a good parenting book and don't have kids. In fact, I think I'll write one for the parent who does it all wrong.
Chapter One: You idiot! Haven’t you figured out your ungrateful wretch's IQ drops 50 points at 13 years of young and doesn’t attempt to stabilize until they reach age 32? And, you haven’t figured out a way to train that little animal like a circus elephant with behavior/reward motivations like: “No clothes, no food, no money for you, one year. I only had you so one day I could kill you and eat your liver, what’s this mom thing?”
Posted by: Audubon Ron | August 28, 2009 at 01:42 PM
This post has me terrified for what my life will be like in a few years. I'm still in the snuggly kindergartener stage of things, but having just purchased shoes size 1.5 today, I can see that quality time might disintegrate before I can even catch my breath. Yikes. Good luck the next two weeks.
Posted by: MommyTime | August 28, 2009 at 06:09 PM
I feel your pain. I once believed that I was a smart woman. Evidently I was mistaken - at least according to my 14 year old son.
Posted by: jean | August 28, 2009 at 07:10 PM
I can't even get my 14 year old to watch the 3 Stooges with me. I mean, come on. He's just trying to get under my skin, right? However the whole chocolate milk thing was fairly predictable. I seem to remember someone who would not eat a mouthful of Subway sandwich on an 8 hour drive because she just couldn't put less than amazing food in her mouth if there was a chance of something really good within the next 48 hours. Seems genetic to me.
Posted by: nthnglsts | August 29, 2009 at 10:18 PM
He's drinking 24-karat milk with Doritos and I am on a quest for the perfect olive. Can DNA really be blamed here?
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | August 30, 2009 at 07:38 AM
I was all set to yell at you for buying Oberweis but thankfully you already know what a crock that scam is. And re the wonderful journey you've just started with your little one? My 23-year-old college senior stopped by for a few days last week to make sure I know how untidy my house is. She used the word 'hoarder' with a little laugh. I used the words "working 50 hours a week to keep up with goddamn college fees doesn't leave much time for going through crap"... well, I didn't actually use them but I thought them real hard.
Posted by: Sue | August 31, 2009 at 12:26 PM
Are there any scarier words in the English language than "trust me mom"??
Posted by: Well Read Hostess | October 08, 2009 at 06:13 AM