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  Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"

Elective

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

There are good things about having grown children and not so good things about it. Big kids are, for one thing, much harder to cuddle. And they really, really do not think that it is funny if you blow a raspberry on their cheek when you are supposed to be giving them a kiss. They might have thought it was the funniest thing in the world when they were two years old, all of mine certainly did, but just let them turn twenty and see how not funny they think it is. Sheesh!

But, as they mature they become much more interesting conversationalists. They can be very funny. They can keep you abreast of all the latest trends in music, clothes, the arts, slang, computer stuff. That's an advantage. Once they get past their teens they are likely to listen to you when you talk and may actually believe some of your advice has a little validity. Some of them might be able to fix your car and others might be able to tell you if you are dressing too old for your age or too young. They may be able to cook sometimes or run some errands.

The big drawback however is that it is much, much harder to tell cute stories about your grown children than it was to tell cute stories about your toddlers. You run several various risks when telling cute stories about your grown children. You run the risk of your story being met with blank stares from your friends, followed by somebody clearing their throat and one of the others reaching out to pat your hand and whispering, "Is he open to the idea of counseling?"

There is also the risk that one of your friends will run into one of your grown children out and about somewhere and that your friend will, in all innocense, let slip something that you told. "Well, gosh John, that haircut is not all that crazy! It looks pretty good! Your mother made it sound completely different!" Or maybe, "Hi Janey! I was so glad to hear from your mother that you finally dumped that horrible loser you were dating and are moving on! Huh? Oh. Well, yes it's a beautiful ring. I hope you two will be very happy."

All well and good for the friend. The friend won't be there when mother and the subject of the unfortunate story next meet in the kitchen. It can be awfully hard to make a semi-adult child understand that even though they are grown (ish) and run their own lives (mostly) and manage their own affairs (so to speak) they are still story fodder for Mommy. The child will most certainly not cut the mother any slack and will not understand that Mother figures that all the years of suffering, sacrifice and toil involved in raising a child give her first story rights to anything and everything about the child's life.

How much fun is it to sit at lunch and say nothing about your children but that they are fine? It is no fun at all. And it is not that interesting either. Besides, though you would not like to be accused of living vicariously through your children, the fact of the matter is that once you have reached the age that your children are big kids you are not doing all that much that is really very exciting. In part because you must spend so much of your time earning that tuition which they seem to think is delivered every semester by a little Tuition Fairy who visits all the good little girls and boys.

Enough justifying. Here comes the story, as I am sure you knew it would. Andy got very good grades this nine weeks. Evidently the horrendous social suffering he endured by wearing bifocals throughout most of the seventh grade paid off and he got, for the first time ever an A in reading. YAHOO! His other grades were good too. Except for Drama.

He got an F in drama. Why Andy, when all your other grades were so wonderful? "I didn't do any of the homework." Whu? You what? "Nope. None of it." Andy? Why in heavens name not? "I didn't want to." Double whu? What did you just say? "MOM! I didn't want to do any of the homework. It is an ELECTIVE you know! I elected to do no homework. Gah, Mom!"

Gah, is right! I must be so stupid! What was I thinking? Well, if you want to know that, you can just ask Andy. Only he won't be home for a while. He's staying after school. To do some extra credit in Drama.

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
November 5, 2007 Column
Bi-weekly

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