July 4, 1993. (You’re now doing the math to figure out how old I am, aren’t you? lol)
I was 16 years old and was out with my friends for the fireworks. It was the only night that I was allowed to stay out past my 10pm curfew. “Be home by midnight. Not a second later.”
It’s 1993. There are no cell phones. There are car phones…you know, the ones in the bag that were plugged into the cigarette lighter…but I certainly didn’t have one in my car. All we had were quarters. And those quarters were used to call home and “check in.”
There were no phones where I was. I went to a bonfire in the middle of the woods to celebrate the 4th. Ok, so I wasn’t exactly where I told my parents I would be. My friend who I was with promised my parents that she would have me home. Needless to say, she skipped out around 11pm to “get home on time.”
“Hey guys, what time is it?”
“Uh let me check…it’s 12:05.”
I am going to die. My parents are physically and literally going to kill me.
My friend Travis grabbed me and we jumped in his Jeep to drive to my house. It’s 4th of July so the traffic is INSANE. Everyone is out on the roads.
“TRAVIS. PLEASE HURRY!”
“I AM SCREWED. ABSOLUTELY SCREWED.”
We are flying into my neighborhood and there she was. My mother. In her robe. On the front porch. Waiting.
“Travis. Keep driving.”
“No it will be fine. Hi Mrs. Goodman. Let me expla—-.” My mom abruptly cuts him off. “Go home Travis.”
My mom then proceeded to pull me out of the Jeep by my hair. The seatbelt was still buckled. My mother literally ripped me out of the car. She had a good grasp on my scalp…I could feel her nails digging into my head while grabbing a rather large section of hair. As we passed the driveway, I noticed that my Dad’s car was gone. Oh crap. He’s out looking for me.
My mom threw me into the house…grabbed my shoulders and put me into a kitchen chair. You see my mother was the disciplinarian in our hosue…at least when it came to my sister and I. My dad always had a soft spot for “his girls.” So when my mom said, “Your father is out looking for you. I’m going to let him deal with you because I can’t even look at you.”
Again. No cell phones. No way of letting my Dad know that I am home. That I am safe.
Then he was home. His face was pale. You could see the worry turn to relief.
“Dad I’m so…”
“I need you to shut your mouth. There are rules in this house. Look up. See that? Your mother and I put that roof over your head. You will follow those rules as long as you are living under that roof right there. WE know what is best for you. There is a reason there is a curfew. NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT. You mark my words. You are a teenager and know very little about life at this point. Got it?”
“Mandy, as a parent, the best thing I hear at the end of the day is that front door opening. Knowing that my kids are safe. Knowing you are where you are supposed to be. You disappointed me tonight.”
There it was. The worst thing you can hear. “You disappointed me.”
Every July 4th, my Dad calls me and says, “Wanna talk about what happened when you were 16?”
I thought of this story after I saw the video of the Baltimore mom disciplining her son on live TV for rioting.
There’s no fear today, you know?
I was afraid of my parents…afraid of doing something that would disappoint them…or make them angry.
My parents didn’t beat us, but I got hit with a wooden spoon. I had soap in the mouth. I got backhanded. I was grounded for MONTHS at a time. I’m not ashamed to admit that at all. And guess what? When I was put in a situation where I could go in the wrong direction, I immediately thought of my parents. “I can’t do this. My parents will kill me.” I’m still afraid of letting my parents down. I respect my mom and dad more than anyone in the world. THEY are my inspiration.
Kudos to that mom in Baltimore. Imagine seeing your child on live television throwing rocks at police?? She wants better for her son. She knows HE KNOWS better.
As my Dad always told me growing up, “I am not your friend. I am your parent. Remember that.”
We need to run our households. Not our children.