It only took 12 years for me to believe that I was the smartest person on the face of the planet and that parents only made rules in a futile attempt to retain relevance in the lives of their children. Everyone knows that rules are not made to protect the well-being of those same offspring. They do not set into place guidelines that will insure the future success of those little scampering bundles of joy.
Then I had some of those leeches of my own, those blood-sucking doppelgangers of our younger selves. My father had a saying: I don’t talk just to hear myself talking. Back when I was a genius, I always thought to myself, “Then why are you talking?” My mother had a saying of her own that I had a vague understanding of back in the day: “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.”
From 1981 to 1984, we lived in Keflavik, Iceland. Great place. I would move back there in a flash if I could get the wife to be willing to go through the winters with just four hours of daylight a day—that being if there is no cloud cover.
This was the height of the Cold War. Iceland with its AWACS and P-3 Orion Sub Hunter air planes, stood as the vanguard to protect the West from the incursions of the bogeyman Soviet Union. While we lived there, the base was going under a lot of new construction.
One of these buildings happened to be along the route I took whenever I would pick up my little sister from daycare and head home. Parents, because they always want to establish this tyrannical relationship over their children, find it necessary to tell curious young boys to stay out of construction sites.
A BRIEF ASIDE: My own son told me a couple months back that he and I have a boss-employee relationship rather than a father-son relationship. I had just told him that he could not go out until his room was cleaned and the dishes put up, me being the dictator that I am as a parent. I explained to him that it was my duty in life to arm him with the tools he will need so he can learn from his mistakes…because he will inevitably make them. END OF ASIDE.
I will give you two guesses what I did each day after picking up my sister from daycare. I bet you only needed one. That’s right. Each day, we would explore the construction site, wondering what was going to go here or what they would use this equipment for. It was pure excitement.
One time as we were getting ready to head home—not because I was instructed to be home at a certain time, but because I just didn’t feel like listening to their droning on and on—I decided to step over a pile of wood. With all the bravado of a 12-year-old boy, I confidently put my foot over the pile of lumber and set it firmly down on an up-pointing nail.
It surprised me that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would have. But it went straight through my foot and came out the top of my sneaker. When I tried to pick it up, the board came with it. I had to step on the end of it with my unfettered foot and pull it free. No big deal. After explaining that my sister was not to tell our parents—because we all know we don’t need the lecture—we went home.
That evening I rode my bike up to the community center for the Boy Scouts meeting. By the time the meeting had ended, my foot had swollen so bad, I had to loosen my laces. In order to withstand the pain, I pedaled my bike back home with the side of my foot.
Needless to say, I got the lecture when I got home. It still droned on the way to the emergency room, at the hospital, and after we arrived back home. And just for good measure, I heard it two or three times a week for the next month.
Geez. Don’t parents realize all children know they make rules to make rules, they just talk to hear themselves talk. They don’t do anything to make the lives of their children easier. They make rules and set expectations just to make things difficult. I knew this when I was 12, and my own children know it now.