To parents with teenage kids: Duck. And. Cover.

By Lisa Sugarman

I distinctly remember being a kid once. I do. I mean there are hundreds of pictures and stories proving that I was one. So it definitely happened. My mom confirms it. But the crazy thing is, my kids don’t buy it. They refuse to see me as anything but their mom. And I’m so much more than that, but there’s just some little mechanism in the kid brain than inhibits that kind of information from being processed and absorbed. I’m ‘mom’ and that’s it. It’s like the second I gave birth I became a one-hit wonder.

It kills me that my being their mother automatically downgrades my cool rating to almost zero just by default. And that’s just because to our kids, once we have that parent moniker, we’re no longer a credible resource. Our past life just calcifies right there in front of our eyes and blows away like a loose pile of soot. And I know it’s not just me. It’s all of us. Every last one of us. It’s like we’re condemned to be viewed only one way by our kids and never as the total package that we really are. And. That. Makes. Me. Crazy.

I’m not quite sure that I understand why our children can’t view us like everyone else in the general population does. I mean, I look like other moms. I sound like other moms. So why, then, when I say the same things that other moms say, does it always provoke the same super-loud sigh, followed by a door slamming? Tell me, please.

Despite my constantly reminding them that there’s probably very little that either of them will ever do that I haven’t done, they still think I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.

I mean, I remember getting punished (although rarely, because I was mostly awesome). I also remember making bad choices (also rarely, because of my awesomeness). I listened to music too loud and refused to wear sunscreen. I’m positive I was a general pain in the ass at least a small percentage of the time. (Ok, fine, maybe it was like 60/40.) I remember thinking I knew absolutely everything about everything. I remember liking boys. (Probably too many boys, now that I think of it.) I went to prom. I learned to drive. I stressed over grades. I just assumed I could eat anything and metabolize it all away (I know, right!). I was bullied. I unconditionally bought in to the unspoken social hierarchy that existed within the school system and accepted the fact that I was pretty much a bottom feeder. I shared secrets. I kept secrets. I stalked boys. I just said no, about a million times. I felt anxious. I felt judged. I felt invincible. I felt scared. I felt the thrill of my first kiss, my first job, my first car. And I felt the pain of my first rejection, my first bombed interview, my first pet dying. I ran the gamut. All of us did.

Clearly I’ve had sex at least twice, so I feel like I can speak to that when it comes up. But as far as my girls are concerned, Dave and I are asexual.

Most of the time, though, my kids treat me like I have absolutely no idea what the hell they’re going through on a daily basis. And I’m not sure if that’s more sad or funny.

And I love it when someone else gives them the exact same advice that I give them and they treat it like it’s the gospel. But when I say it, I just get the, “MOM! YOU! HAVE! NO! IDEA!” I get that a lot.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I feel extremely lucky that my two kids were the ones who swam their little guts out up that Fallopian tube. I’m blessed, I really am. They’re both beautiful people and I’m beyond lucky that they’re mine. I just wish our kids could realize, when they’re still kids, that we’re so much more than just the nags who bitch at them to pick all their crap up off the floor and hang up their friggin’ bath robe. I mean, that’s what the hook is for!

I feel like we should all be celebrated as parents, not avoided in public places and shunned because we have no rhythm or have no business getting a belly ring at age 44. I mean can’t that just be cool on me like it would be on anyone else?

I can’t help but feel like I have some degree of wisdom to impart, yet my kids instantly and without any basis, discredit 99.7% of the advice or suggestions I give them purely because it was my womb they came out of.

Out in the real world people seem to like my groove when I get it on. People actually listen to me and even, on rare occasions, ask my advice. I don’t get how we have no credibility with the very same little people who we bring into the world.

I just don’t get it. I’ve lived. I’ve screwed up. I have stories and wisdom. I’ve got game. But under my own roof, I’m no better than Rodney Dangerfield. I get no respect.

Look, I know my kids love me. But I want them to want me to start dancing in the middle of Forever 21 when the Muzak gets my groove on. I want them to want me to hang out in the basement when they’re making up code names for the boys they like. I want them to hang on my every word and obey my every command.

Yeah, I know, I’m an idiot. Not gonna happen. And I’m pretty sure, now that I’m really thinking it through, that every generation faces the same issue. And they will for the rest of time.

Fortunately our kids get it eventually. Unfortunately for us, though, they don’t usually get it until they have their own kids. At which point, though, the old what-goes-around-comes-around kicks in and our justice is served piping hot and with a cocktail on the side. That’s when they’ll see me for all that I really am. So until then, I guess I’ll just duck and cover and ride the wave until it breaks. And you might consider doing the same.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead. Read and discuss all her columns at OR read her blog at


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