The Parent-Child Dance

“If you get her pregnant I don’t have to worry.” That is not an exact quote of what my mother said, but it is the focal part of the memory. I hesitate to share these thoughts with you because I don’t want my mother to be painted in a bad light and really there is no reason for her to be. But I am a protective sort of fellow and I can’t help but worry about mom. If anything I am probably being overprotective because when it is told in context the story isn’t bad.

Here is the setting. I am a 25 year-old man who is living by myself. I have my own apartment and am working full time. My office is about three miles from my parents house and a couple of miles from my place. It was never my intention to live so close to home, but I live close to work and that is close to home. It is coincidence and some of my friends give me grief about it. I don’t care. No one shows up at my place unannounced, at least no family members do. It is long before cellphones become prevalent so I enjoy a different sort of freedom than we do today.

Most days I work from 8-5. I usually hit the gym after work. I play ball with the guys, lift weights and then sit in the steam room. I may be working full time, but the job pays peanuts so I am poor. I live down the street from a bar and grille. A few of my neighbors and I have made friends with the bartenders. So after work I’ll come home and head over there for happy hour. If you buy a drink then you can eat at the happy hour buffet. And since we have become friends with the bartender we know that we’ll only have to pay for every third beer.

I don’t hit the restaurant every night. There are nights spent with friends and a few lady companions. One night my mother calls and complains that she never hears from me. She tells me that it would be nice for me to come by to have dinner and asks if I am sleeping more than a few hours each night. She knows me well. I have been a night owl for years. I promise to come by soon and then she tells me that one of her friends saw me with a girl. I can tell by her tone that whomever saw me provided something more descriptive than “I saw Jack with a girl.” I grunt some sort of reply and she asks me if she should meet her. I tell her that there is no one to meet and she is silent.

It is the parent-child dance. She wants to know more and I want her to know less. One day far in the future I’ll sit on the other side of that discussion, but not yet.

Time passes and I leave my first job and take on another. I leave the country on a business trip and wander the streets of Jerusalem. I have friends from America who have already made the move to Israel. When I am not working we meet for lunch or dinner. Inside pubs we drink beer and talk about life. They bring some of their friends along. The table is filled with people from all over. The conversation slides from English to Hebrew to Spanish to English to Hebrew and to whatever else happens to be comfortable to those with us.

There are a million stories that could be told about those days. Really, I do the story an injustice by not providing more background. The sights and sounds and the smells provide layers that add flavor and feeling. Really, it is a shame not to include more but we’ll save that for a different day. Instead we’ll take you back to what happened when I got back to the states.

Time has passed and I am back in my apartment. I just got engaged and am on my way to my mother’s office to pass along the news. That is when she’ll tell me that she won’t worry about me getting her pregnant. It is not the only thing she says nor the first thing. In fact it is among the last, but that is not the sort of thing that I expect to hear from my mother.

Flash forward a thousand years and I think about what sorts of memories my children will have. What impact do my words have upon them. What will they remember.

Not so long ago I shared that memory with my mom. She has no recollection of saying anything like that. Perhaps I imagined it and perhaps not. At this point it doesn’t really matter. What I concern myself with is exactly what I mentioned before, the impact of my words on my children.

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2 Comments

  1. subWOW February 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    This is such a good point that you brought up at the end. I think I am in serious trouble… I do however mitigate by pointing out to my children things they may want to include when they become writers and want to write about their parents one day…

    • Jack February 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      I am sure that they will have nothing but good things to say and write about you. Ok, I am not really sure but it sounds a lot nicer to say that I am.

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