Cutting the Umbilical Cord
I really should be going to bed around now. Every single day, I tell myself “I’m going to go to bed early tonight. I have no reason to stay up late and I’m exhausted.” And then everyday, I stay up late for no reason whatsoever. Tonight is no exception.
So, something that bothers me: parents that refuse to cut the umbilical cord.
Figuratively, of course.
My best friend since sixth grade (we’ll call her Gracie) has super strict parents. They have very traditionally southern values and impose them with a vengeance. Now, don’t get me wrong. Gracie’s parents are extremely nice people, and I like them very much. I just get soo incredibly frustrated with them.
Gracie is twenty years old (fun fact: she is exactly six months older than me – her birthday is my half birthday). Now, you’d think by the time your child is no longer a teenager you’d let them take a little responsibility for their own life, right? Well, if you’re Gracie’s parents, wrong.
My parents started giving me freedom in high school – the summer before junior year they actually left me at home by myself for five days while they drove (fourteen hours) to New York to see my Grandpa. (Side note: then again, my mother apparently doesn’t trust my sister as much…my parents were supposed to go to Las Vegas this weekend and leave my sister, who will be eighteen next month, home alone for like three or four days. My mom got on the plane and subsequently freaked out, got off the plane, and went home. I can see the freak-out between her and my Dad in my mind and it’s not pretty).
ANYWAY, although my Mom enforced an early curfew for most of high school (“I can’t sleep unless I know you’re home safe!”), when I came back for Christmas break last year she realized that she couldn’t really control me anymore. I’m not wild or anything, I’m just very independent and strong-willed and my Mom, as a occasionally-rational human being, recognized that she’d drive me away if she tried to hold me back. So since then, my life’s been pretty much rule-free. Occasionally I run things by my parents when I feel like it’s something big, and (unless they’re paying for it), my parents usually respond by asking why I’m asking for permission.
Gracie’s parents, on the other hand, seem to think that she is completely incapable of making any decisions. If she tells them she’s going to go somewhere, they say, “excuse me, are you asking or telling me that?” and then don’t let her go because she didn’t ask properly. She has a job, pays for gas money…I don’t see why she can’t drive a few hours somewhere if she wants. It’s not like she’s using their money or cars for it.
The most recent issue, however, is Gracie’s tattoo. Now, I’m not a fan of tattoos – in fact, I kind of really hate them. However, I admit that I’m in the minority there. Gracie recently got a tattoo. It’s on her upper abs and is a phrase in Spanish from a song she sang with her high school chorus and a heart. It’s pretty tasteful, and, as tattoos go, not bad. I mean, no one will see it unless they’re at the beach or she takes her shirt off for other reasons, so it’s not like it’ll influence her ability to get a job or anything. Initially, she didn’t tell her parents and planned on keeping it a secret forever. I told her this was stupid – they’ll find out and get even more mad. Not that they’re entitled to, but that won’t stop them.
So, Gracie told her parents. She showed her mother, who, get this, BURST INTO TEARS AND TOLD HER THAT THIS MUST MEAN SHE DIDN’T LOVE OR RESPECT HER MOTHER ANYMORE. …..
I really don’t see the connection between getting a tattoo and your relationship to your parents. Her dad told her it was disrespectful to them and to them raising her and to her own body. It’s not like she tattooed “FUCK MY PARENTS” on her ass or something.
Not only is their rationale unreasonable, but it’s just plain selfish. This was something she did for herself – something meaningful to her, and her parents make it about them?
It’s times like these that I’m really grateful for my parents. If I came home with a tattoo, I think the worst they would do would be to tell me I’m stupid or that they don’t like it. I won’t ever have to deal with that situation, but it’s nice to know that, compared to other people’s parents, mine are somewhat reasonable.
I mean, when my mom’s not wasting hundreds of dollars on plane tickets by hopping off last minute because of her separation anxiety… but whatever.