It is amazing to me, how many high and holy standards I’ve lowered over my 16 years of parenting. From my stalwart pledge against processed foods at the birth of my first, to ardently vowing I’d never give a child under 15 a cell phone (tapped out at 13) the amount of platitudes I’ve let slump or even tossed out the window, when parenthood gets real, is near shameful. I realize the slumping of standards only increases as we have more kids and it’s not like we’re not talkin’ moral decay or safety risks, but seriously, the things I let my youngest do compared to the bubble my oldest my first dwelled in, is pretty egregious. I think Jack’s bedtime was 8 p.m. 'til 13, and I actually couldn’t find my youngest for about ten minutes last night. “WHERE is Kenai, guys?!”
But of all the parenting fortitudes I’ve let slide due to a lack of time, energy, and the general decay of first time parent delusion, I think I’ve seen the most extreme veer from my own rules after receiving the most shocking answer to a very common question in our house, every time an action movie comes out in the theaters:
“Jack, what time are we seeing Wonder Woman?”
Silence. …..”Um. Actually I was thinking of going to see it with a friend.”
“Um. Kiera. She’s JUST a friend. And she really loves Marvel.”
What. The shizzle. Is Happening.
Let’s just back it up a moment and set the stage to better convey the Earth shattering magnitude of this sentence. It’s not that I was upset being ditched for a cinematic event. In fact, there is an entire chapter in my book dedicated to how watching action movies with my sons is actually “mommy martyrdom,” because, well, I hate action movies and anyone who’s had to sit through eight hours of Lord of the Rings knows exactly the pain I speak of. However, as much as I literally despise movie heroes and all their super glory, I‘ve taken pride in the fact that my 16 year-old prefers to see these movies with his mother, in public, over his own friends, because it’s “our thing.” I’ve probably invested more in popcorn lard than his college savings, but to me, this experience is priceless and more than worth the slow death of my brain cells, every time.
So while it was a bit of a shock that he was choosing to take anyone else besides the woman one who wore fake Uggs and cancelled cable to afford his school tuition, it was more the fact that he was going with a girl, who clearly, by the red hue of his cheeks was NOT his new BFF.
I tried to play it so smooth at first, asking questions and trying not to let the cracks show as he fed me some nonsense about them becoming friends in Spanish class while my brain internally spun deciding whether or not to let him go on a non-date with this mom-trumping senorita. This clearly violated our “no dating allowed” rule that I instilled since his birth, always believing it’s best for teens to just be friends with the opposite sex and stick to group settings until mature enough to actually “court.” I know, so Amish. I have my reasons.
But for some reason I totally choked. I wasn’t prepared for this convo, or the sheepish, excited look on his face asking if I minded driving them both ways, and reassuring me he’d still see it with me this weekend. It totally killed my instincts to shut this pseudo date down, even while formulating a counter argument, I just couldn’t find the words to say no. And just like that…another parenting tenet, out the window.
“Uhhhh, okay that’s fine. Are you gonna buy her ticket? You really should.”
Did I seriously just give him a dating tip...is this Dr. Phil?!
Perhaps the only thing greater than the shock I felt at my caving like a landslide was the total hilarity and unexpected mix of emotions I felt driving my baby to pick up a girl for the most entertaining 10 minute commute of my life. Everything from watching him walk up to the door and shake her aunt’s hand, to him abandoning shotgun to share a back seat with his “friend,” was beyond hysterical.
And okay I admit it. The movie mistress was cute. The whole car ride to pick her up was one silent prayer in my head...please don’t be a Miley Cyrus, please don’t be a Miley Cyrus. And the Lord answered. Much to my surprise Kiera was a quirky, high –top wearing, cutie wearing admittedly enough perfume to mask a skunk farm, but she was sweet and showed no signs of pole dancing in her future. The combination of Jack’s Axe body spray (I swear he bathes in that stuff) and her perfume made me so lightheaded I was tempted to hang my head out the window…but then I would have missed their giddy conversations about marvel villains, and comic plots.
At one point, she even asked me a question:
“Do you like Marvel, Ms. Kastner?”
“Oh Kiera. You have no idea.”
I somehow transmuted from civilly protesting the situation, to giving him props and extra cash for the vending machine, as I watched the two of them Instagram their way through the doors and wave goodbye to their tear-stifling ride. I’ve never wanted to see the opening Wonder Woman so badly. My seat had just been temporarily replaced, and I literally balled on the drive home-half confused whether I made the right decision, half in shock at my desire to watch three hours of adults in tights.
Sigh. I dunno. I think it’s good to begin our parenting journeys with the most knowledge, research and prayer possible, so we can make the best decisions, with the best of intentions, but I think we also have to adjust our responses and re-analyze a bit, when we’re actually going through the experience . I’m still not sure about our dating rules going forward, but it feels healthy and happy to me, and I’ll always keep praying for discernment.
Plus, the next Star Wars comes out in December, and I heard Kiera’s a big fan. Thank. You. Jesus.