A look at turning into our parents
A few weeks ago, my best friend and I went to the mall. As she drove, she suddenly threw her hands in the air and yelled, “God, this guy is riding my tail!” And there it was, a tiny bit of her dad coming through.
I am guilty of the same thing. For instance, when I happen to notice that someone is tan, I say they are “brown as a berry.” Berries aren’t even brown. I didn’t come up with these things on my own. And each time I catch myself doing or saying one of these things, I always pause and think.
I’m turning into my mom.
But while we are slowly picking up our parents’ tendencies, it seems like our parents are trying to meet us somewhere in the middle. Are they acquiring our habits also?
One of my roommates received the following text message from her mom: “Waz up?” There is no way her mom goes around the office asking co-workers the same thing. But there it was, in an effort to find that common ground and to appear cool in the eyes of her daughter.
My dad has fallen into a similar trap. Not long ago I checked my voicemail and was surprised to hear, “Yo Kate, it’s Dad.” Yo Kate? Really?
Sometimes, by trying to be cool, our parents sometimes unknowingly make the gap between us more noticeable. Whether it’s seeing your mom in skinny jeans or getting a grammatically-incorrect text, there’s something not quite right about our parents being on the same level.
We want them to stay on their level, but why is it increasingly harder to stay on ours when we are subconsciously adopting their habits?
“Two hands on the wheel,” I scolded my mom over winter break. “It’s raining!” She rolled her eyes and put her other hand on the steering wheel. “Don’t roll your eyes at me,” I scoffed. Wow.
That’s not the only role reversal going on. My mom used to help me with my homework, and today I help her use the computer. My dad once taught me to ski, and these days I am teaching him to use an iPod. I struggle to understand how he finds this user-friendly device so difficult.
But not only do we find ourselves parenting our parents, sometimes we find ourselves parenting our friends.
Every group of friends has one person who already exercises their parental rights at 21, without even having to give birth. She is the one who makes you clean the house, keep the music down, and bring a jacket out at night.
Last week one of my roommates baked cupcakes and accidentally left the oven on all night. When she woke up the next morning, not only did she find her cupcakes burnt to a crisp, but she had to endure the wrath of an angry roommate. “You could have killed us, the house could have burned down,” she said. “You need to be more responsible.”
The culprit stood for a moment and then replied, “Okay, mom.”
Even though my other roommate knows about her tendency to parent, she still looked offended. Considering that a majority of us will go on to be parents one day, shouldn’t we be happy that we possess these responsible characteristics? Motherly characteristics can be especially valuable, but what about those that have resonated from our own parents?
I will be lucky if I turn into half of the person my mom is. A breast cancer survivor, among other things, she is not only my hero but my best friend. That doesn’t sound like such a bad person to turn into.
You can contact freelance writer Kate Mishara at firstname.lastname@example.org