Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a while. I might say that it is because I have been working too hard. Or that I came down with some mysterious illness that has left me unable to research and write. Or that I have been on a well-deserved vacation to a hidden island, hanging out with flying monkeys and drinking spice rum. While all these are excellent excuses- the real reason is that I found the Tik Tok.
Yes, my friends, hours upon hours of animal videos, influencers, dancing, relationship advice, comedic relief, and household cleaning tips. I am well-versed in dressing like a drag queen, cooking stuffed chicken with a Cool Ranch chip topping, and using my used face masks to make bras. I do believe I am a well-rounded person now.
Do you know why I have spent so much time watching the Tik Tok? Because it requires no thinking, no emotional attachments, and no responding with smiley faces, thumbs up, or the occasional ‘Well done’ statement. I can watch other people’s happy moments without actually being invested in their lives.
You might be thinking to yourself that I am about a year behind the rest of the world. That is true. You might be thinking that this new obsession is going to hinder my research and writing. It has. You might even want to tell me all about the reasons why I shouldn’t be watching the Tik Tok. I know all the reasons! The seven days’ worth of laundry and dishes in my sink are proof enough that I need to throw away my phone.
But this has been a tough week. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. I need a pick me up. I need senseless 30-second clips of an Otter chasing a spin top across the kitchen floor. I crave the new reality that I could become famous by drinking coffee while wearing curlers in my hair.
You are asking yourself why did she have a hard week? Let me explain:
Every child comes to a point in their life that they feel that they have grown tall enough to yell at their parents for every perceived wrong ever done to them. In this moment of transition from child to mini-adult, they lay in bed and write a laundry list of moments that they want to bring up, explore, and lay on the table for discussion. They have itemized arguments; poster boards are created detailing timelines and locations; a wide range of facts and educational guesses are written out on yellow legal paper that would make any D.A. Prostuctor proud. And then comes the hammer. They are prepared to lay it all out.
Now, I remember my moment of this transition. I can recall the trial against my parents where I transformed into judge, jury, and executioner. Brutal day! Not my proudest moment in life, but I was standing on the pillar of righteousness. Forty-five minutes later, that pillar laid in heaps of small stones and dust. But I digress.
This past weekend was my moment as a parent to be put on the stand. I was wholly unprepared, woefully naive, and unsure of the various charges that I would face.
Remember when I didn’t buy the Lucky Charms and instead made them buy the off-brand in the 5-pound bag? Embarrassing! Remember when I didn’t buy them a new car when they got their driver’s license? Unforgivable. Remember that time when I wouldn’t let my children go to the after-party during homecoming? That set them back five years in social growth. Remember that time they broke their I-phone at 7 p.m., and I didn’t have a new one ready for them by 6 a.m. the following day- they could have lost their job, relationship, and Snap Chat streak of 1,345 days.
What have I done?
I have essentially set all my children back emotionally and spiritually at least 15 years of their less than 21 years of life.
Now, I am older. My brain doesn’t work like it use to. I need a few seconds between the left and right hooks to think through the accusations and remember what happened on 19 July 2008 at 12:32 p.m. At one point, I was scrolling through Facebook, hoping that the timeline app would show me pictures of the general chronology so that I had a fighting chance to know what the hell my child was talking about. I even took out a pad of paper and pen and took notes trying to connect the dots.
Wait?!? What?!? A duck ate your sandwich at the lake down that one dirt road, and I didn’t fight off the Panada Bear? What do you mean I bought the wrong color Jordan’s, and because of that, you slipped on the cafeteria floor while carrying a tray of green jello, and it fell in that one girl’s lap? Didn’t you date that girl for a year after that? That time in the mall that you were left in a Tea Shop alone for 48.5 seconds, and you didn’t know where anyone went, and it cause years of emotional and physical abandonment issues? That wasn’t even me! That was your grandmother who did that!
It was a rough weekend. The icing on the cake was that my father had front-row seats to the show. I saw the slight smile on his face as he watched the 12 round boxing match occur from the safety of his lawn chair with a bottle of Crisp Apple Cider. Payback at its best! All those years of crap that I had put my parents through led up to this moment.
Now, my father is a good man. He didn’t say a word during the battle. He just listened and watched as his daughter was struggling to find equal footing. He would slightly nod in my favor when I could come back with a reasonable explanation to an accusation. He would raise his eyebrows when my child told on me and my bad parenting. He would smile when I would get frustrated and knew that I was holding back the cuss words that were on the tip of my tongue.
He was in heaven.
That was days ago. I have not slept because I have been reviewing my pages of notes. I have been writing letters to friends that I haven’t seen in years, trying to get the facts straight. I have called three disconnected phone numbers, and Facebook messaged 19 people by the name of Daniel John, hoping to get the one that I knew in 2007 to apologize for yelling at his dog in front of my children.
I am so tired from thinking that I have spilled my coffee daily. I broke my big toe trying to kick a mosquito while attempting to clean up the spilled coffee. And I have been fighting a migraine from trying to rectify the fact that the oldest son’s cat ate the youngest son’s hampster five years ago.
Being a parent is hard. Having your worst moments as a parent laid out in front of your father is harder. But waiting on your children to forgive you for things that happened when they were five is the hardest.
This is the reason why I have found solace in the Tik Tok. I understand these parents! They are just trying to make sense of this crazy world by posting videos of their children enjoying their first doughnuts. They are documenting that they are parents who are relaxed, fun, and have a sense of humor. They are proving that they didn’t completely ruin their child’s life.
Piece of advice- keep all those videos! You will need documentation to prove your innocence as you sit on the courtroom stand to answer for all your parenting sins.
Because years down the road, your father too will be given the best father’s day present of his life- payback!