Weird Things Our Parents Think


Let it be known: I love my parents. They have raised and nurtured me, even through my worst years—when I was thirteen and my mom caught me making an impassioned speech to the glossy Nick Lachey smiling up at me from my 98 Degrees poster. They still loved me when I insisted I wanted my bat mitzvah to be held under water. Still, as I get older, I can’t help but think: you people are weird. How did you birth me? How, in fact, did I spring from your loins when we seem to have so little in common? Here are a few examples of strange parental thoughts.

Everyone should know your intimate business.

My mother will introduce to me a friend of hers, and then, when her friend asks how I’ve been, my mother will say, “She’s been taking a lot of naps recently. She’s a little moody.” Or the over-share will be more minor, and therefore, even less interesting and relevant to anyone’s life: “She might be allergic to long-haired cats. Oh, and she likes that new television program on A&E.” Not knowing how to respond, the person smiles and nods, and says something like, “Tough break about the cats,” or “interesting, I love TV.” My mother smiles knowingly and grips my shoulder with a firm, talon-like hand as she drags me away. Now we can all sleep better at night.

You should know anyone who is, or around, your age.

The same goes for anyone who falls into any Venn diagram circle of relation: they live in the same large city, they like nineties rap, they often eat frozen yogurt, they once shopped at Forever 21. “Do you know that girl?” my mom will say, “She ordered the spicy tuna. You LOVE spicy tuna.” No, I do not know her. We have never met. There are 7 billion people on this Earth and many of them eat sushi.

Your tastes probably haven’t changed very much since early childhood.

At age seven, I announced my favorite color was lime green and that when I grew up, I wanted to be a manatee caretaker or a manicurist specializing in tiny flowers. While I’m still passionate about the plight of the manatee, after so many years, my tastes have changed. Still, in crowded restaurants, my dad will announce that I’ve always loved baby carrots and orange soda, and if I want, the chef could probably rustle some up just for me.

Still, you’re never too old to grow out of something.

There are some habits that I think I could break if I had any sort of stamina or dedication: I could stop slouching, I could quit biting my nails, I could stop saying the word “like.” Also, habits I could stand to pick up: I could make my bed every single morning and go to the gym regularly, and without wincing and wishing everybody muscle spasms. But those are habits. What about the traits and characteristics that have now become intrinsic to our personalities, and yet, our parents still think we might grow out of them. “Some day,” says my mother, “you’ll stop being so stubborn. Or “You might end up loving math. Right after you stop needing to get the last word.” But don’t you see! This is my personality! Mostly due to DNA (from you people) and I’m pretty sure it’s too late to redo the summer I spent making sock puppets instead of learning multiplication.

You should probably let me talk to them.

In times of major catastrophe, medical or otherwise, I still immediately call my parents. Let them talk to the doctor/police/Colombian drug lord. Dad can fix it. But in times of minor catastrophes, or as they should be more aptly called “blips” my father still demands to be handed the phone. At age twenty-four, I seem unable to ask the right questions to the cable company representative, or I don’t use a firm enough tone. “Let me talk to them,” my father says, “I’ll explain to this Ikea know-it-all why this bed frame could kill you.”

So next time you encounter one of these scenarios, don’t get frustrated. Have a little patience. These people love you. And while it seems they might be torturing you slowly, as though by water-board or sustained high pitched noises—they are doing their best. And anyway, you wouldn’t be here otherwise.

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image – Roger Wollstadt