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WriteOut of Her Mind

by Kelly Waterhouse

Parenting 101

It was just another weeknight family dinner, all of us gathered around the dining table, eating our meal. No one spoke.

Each of us were solemnly contemplating the events of our day when my teenage daughter broke the silence by matter-of-factly stating, “I’m never having kids.”

The Carpenter and I, without so much as eye contact or a word between us, simultaneously picked up our water glasses, clinked them together, said “cheers,” took a sip of our drinks and carried on eating, as if nothing happened.

Our daughter watched the silent interaction cautiously, unsure if she had just witnessed sarcasm or a muted celebration. To be fair, it was both.

“I’m serious,” she insisted, demanding attention. “I am not going to have children.”

Pregnant pause. Sometimes we purposely don’t give her the reaction she seeks, if only because we like to tease her a little. It builds character and curbs the dramatic episodes that come with parenting a teenage girl. Of course, we can only do this for so long. Her repeated statement meant our dinner conversation was about to be nothing short of entertaining. You would expect nothing less of my family, I’m sure. You’d be right.

Our daughter is taking a parenting class, a senior credit for her high school diploma. When she registered for the class initially, I rolled my eyes because I assumed she thought this would be an easy A, but also because my daughter doesn’t particularly like children.

She does not and would not babysit because she finds the idea painful. She believes children are adorable, but best left to someone else’s care. A whole term spent talking about the reality of parenting seemed ironic.

Mind you, I was happy to know the course existed and wished it did when I was in school.  All I had of relevance to my future role as a parent was a ridiculous class in home economics where I learned nothing about managing a household (as evidenced by my daily mismanagement of my current household). What I did learn is that I should never touch a sewing machine because the foot pedal was not intended to be used as a gas pedal to speed through my craft projects. Also, just because the muffins I baked were hard like hockey pucks didn’t actually mean they should be used as such. Fun, but not okay. So many rules. I like to think the teacher of that class learned as much as I did that year.

But a course in parenting? That would have been useful, as I’d always planned to be a mother one day (not when it actually happened, but you know, one day). It would have given me a sense of just how all-consuming parenthood would be. Clearly, it was having that effect on my daughter. Karma is real.

She wanted a reaction. She wanted me to argue my case for grandchildren or to give her some spiel on how parenting was the best thing ever. And I will one day. But for now, our teenage girl’s perception of parenthood is right where we’d like it to stay for at least a decade.

The Carpenter and I picked up our glasses once more, clinked them together and said, “Our job here is done. Good parenting.”



Vol 51 Issue 11


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