Five things you used to judge your parents for you now do yourself
It's a slow, cruel process
When you're a kid or an adolescent, your parents do a lot of things you might have found laughable, annoying, or downright unfair. It's not until you become an adult and recall these things (or worse, start doing them yourself) that you realize there may have been a method to their madness. Here are the top things you used to judge your parents for doing that you are probably doing now:
Baby, it's cold inside
What, is 60 not warm enough for you?
Remember when you were a kid and couldn't understand why your parents bought you sweaters for holiday gifts or why you could practically see your breath in your bedroom when you woke up in the morning? It was because they kept the house cool during the winter to save on heating costs. I remember wearing a jacket inside my house growing up for much of the winter and whining to my mom about the morgue-like temperature, to which she would respond by informing me that I would understand one day when I had my own house as she hitched her cozy fleece robe tighter. Guess what? Today I brace myself every morning to get out of my warm bed and face the day in my freezing cold house—wearing my own fleece robe.
When I was a kid my mother would always get overly excited when someone thought she was younger than her actual age. She would light up, flash a big smile, and say "Oh, I like you!" to anyone who guessed she was five years younger. This was always confusing to me as a child. Who the hell wanted to be seen as younger? I was dying to grow up, counting the days until I was old enough to drive, to go out with my friends by myself, to date. As an adult, I am embarrassed to admit I find myself doing the exactly the same thing my mother does when someone thinks I'm younger. I'll straighten my back, break out into a flirty grin, and say coyly "Why, yes, that's how I old I am! How'd you guess?" How the mighty have fallen.
Waste not, want not
That's only its first life
Birthdays, holidays, and any other time when beautifully wrapped gifts were involved inevitably resulted in a sugar-crazed tornado of frenzied ripping and discarding of wrapping paper as a child. As I got older I managed to harness enough self-control to pretend to enjoy reading the card before tearing into the gift, but the wrapping paper was always an afterthought. My mom would swoop in as I carelessly tore apart the shiny parcel, chiding me for not opening it with enough care so that we might be able to reuse the paper. These days I find myself reenacting these same scenes with an eerie case of déjà vu. "Be careful!" I'll screech at my nieces and nephews. "You can reuse that paper!" I now unwrap gifts with the tensely controlled moments of someone diffusing a bomb.
That reminds me of a song
Perhaps this is just my singular childhood experience, but when I was younger my mom would frequently break into song when a snippet of conversation triggered a memory of a familiar tune. I would be telling her how pumped I was about an upcoming event and she would burst out with the titular line from The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited." At the time it was annoying and embarrassing, but now I find myself doing the very same thing. In public.
Nothing healthy for me, thanks!
While it was not the sole reason, junk food was a factor in a few of my friendships that tipped the scales in their favor. If their pantries were stocked with sugar-laden peanut butter, white bread, and Frosted Flakes, I would happily go to their house to play, just to get access to those sweet forbidden treats that never crossed the threshold of my home. Growing up my mother fed me what I subsist on today: whole grain breads, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and organic meats and cheeses, etc.
I did not come to appreciate this until much later. As a kid I would angle for frozen fried chicken wings and bologna sandwiches; mini pizzas and Yoo-hoo; and, of course, Bisquick pancakes with Log Cabin diabetes-inducing syrup. I look back at my immature palate and wonder what was I thinking? Grocery stores were a battleground and my sister and I were the ardent missionaries of Kraft. Although I must admit that Kraft macaroni and cheese is still the best mac n' cheese I've ever had.
Being a parent is never easy and children tend to learn many habits that were never intended to be passed on. Through the osmosis of childhood, they absorb attitudes and behaviors -- some good and some bad. But the next time you find yourself judging a parent for acting in a way that elicits an internal eye-roll, take a moment to cut them some slack. You just may find yourself doing the very same thing in the future.