Saturday, October 3, 2009

an open letter to parents

Dear Parents (or people who may have kids at some point in their future),

I write to you today to tell you something about your kids.  They lie to you.  All the time.  Remember your childhood?!?  Remember when you lied to your parents about whose gum got stuck in the carpeting or who was responsible for fucking up the VHS tape (because it got stuck so you opened the flap and saw that it was buckled so you tried to straighten it with your grubby fingers).  Remember the time you blew that test in high school and lied to your parents about the grade?  Remember prom?  By telling them "it was fine, we danced, ate some food and drank some punch" you were LYING to them because you didn't want to tell them all the crazy shit you did that night.  You did it all the time.  Don't assume that trend stops with you or your generation.  In fact, it is getting more sophisticated.

You know what your kids (will) lie about?  The shit they do in college.  That's right folks.  You think you are sending your precious little somethings off to some college to get immersed in a life of the mind.  You imagine them sitting under a tree with their fellow classmates talking about Proust and Kant and arguing about how best to advertise the bake sale for the Students Against the Treacherous Use of Fur club (thanks Dar).

But you know what they are probably doing instead?  Smoking weed under that tree laughing about how you can make both Kant and Proust sound like farts if you say them a certain way and they are trying to decide who they can get to make pot brownies for their bake sale.

So, when an administrator from your child's college calls you to tell you that your kid is failing/drunk/stoned/an idiot and you proceed to argue with said administrator that somehow they have gotten the wrong impression of your perfect little Jimmy/Sally just remember that I warned you.  I told you that your kids will lie to you. They will try to sweet talk you and tell you that the college is overreacting.  They will say "but mom, it was my roommate's bong" or "I just walked in the room while they were playing beer pong, I swear... I was at the library," or my personal favorite "the professor must have me mistaken with someone else." (Really?  Because there are only about 20 people in your class and the faculty are not fucking idiots.)  And you, because you are a SUCKER and have some odd sense of loyalty and unconditional love, will believe them.  You, because you want your kid to like you, will berate an innocent college administrator telling them that they have it all wrong and have pegged your poor Jimmy/Sally wrong.  In these moments, please remember all the times you lied to your parents and give a girl a break.  I have no interest in calling you to tell you that your kid is an idiot.  In fact, I dread those phone calls.  Really.  Almost as much as you do.  Granted, their fuck-ups are not my fault so it makes it a little easier; they are the fault of your child (and don't think we don't blame you too, because we do.).

Also, as long as I have your attention:  DO NOT, for any reason, think that announcing you are getting a divorce about 4 weeks into your kid's first year in college is a good idea.  DO NOT assume that because they are now out of the house this is a good plan.  Don't lie to yourself (see, they learned it from you) and think that it will be easier for them to deal with because they are not home.  You know what?  It is actually harder.  Why?  Because they are not home.  They have no sense of what is going on at home.  They can't be with you in person to talk with you about it.  They will have to come home for Thanksgiving break to a whole new house and new set of rules.  They have just gone through one of the most challenging transitions in their life and you fuck it all up by not trusting them to handle it in person.  My guess is that you and your spouse have been thinking about it for a while.  My guess is that it has been quite a while, am I right?  So, how about you grow a pair and talk to your child about it over the summer?  Get them some therapy if they need it.  TALK to them about what is going to happen.  Let them help you plan for a two house family.  GIVE THEM SOME CREDIT.  They are no longer 5 years old.  I know you want them to be, but they aren't.

[Note re: divorce announcement timing: None of the above paragraph applies if the divorce was not planned and it happened because one or both of you went all mid-life crisis on the other and went and picked up some hottie who is waaaay too young for you just to prove that you still got it.  If this is the case, well, then, I can't help you.]


Your bitter friendly college administrator