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What Your Kids Think of You

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No one knows me better than my kids. My siblings, cousins, mother, my significant other—they all know me well, but not like my sons. My sons hear my pathetic attempts to play Bach inventions, they know exactly how long I can tolerate dishes in the sink, how much TV I can watch (a lot) and how much pizza I can really eat (no comment). And now they are old enough to tell me my problems.

I have had more insightful conversations with my sons about the foibles of family members than with any other adults on the planet. My middle son has explained his father’s psychology to me, my oldest son has written me into a screenplay and my youngest son has yelled at me for texting while driving. “Didn’t you see Werner Herzog infomercial?” (In my defense, I was at a red light.)

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Other things my sons think about me:

I’m hung up on trying to make everyone be happy, which makes me sound a little naive but kind of nice, too.

I include waaayyyyy too much back story.

My desk is always a disaster, which, well, it’s true. And I don’t mind a bit.

Having adult children is humbling because if you brought them up to be emotionally savvy, and they took it and ran with it as my sons did, they can see you like nobody else can. And if we love our children with all their faults included, well, I think (I hope, I know) my sons love me that way back. Certainly I can say the same about my relationship with my mother. I know the why, where and how of all her mistakes and I would throw myself in front of a bus for her (if I could get there before she threw herself under the same bus for me).

I have been very open about my failings with my children, and they have given me back the gift of their acceptance and wisdom about those same failings.

One of the greatest gifts my mother gave her children was acknowledging that she isn’t perfect. Her mother, on the other hand, did no wrong. When my mother broke that cycle even in the smallest things—she has the worst sense of direction on the planet, and she’s never had a problem admitting it—she changed all of us who came after her, making it so much easier for us to admit our faults to our kids and let them know that perfection is not attainable (though striving for it has its rewards). So I have been very open about my failings with my children, and they have given me back the gift of their acceptance and wisdom about those same failings.

So while I taught them all kinds of useful things, from laundry to sentence structure, they’ve taught me a lot, too. Here are some of the incredibly helpful things I’ve learned from my kids:

Just listen—don’t try to fix it.

You can’t make everyone happy.

Don’t get too involved with the crazy people at school or (especially!) the dog park.

Cook more and don’t order in so much.

Don’t try to second guess the GPS. (Or as my youngest said to me—several times—on our college tour, “Just follow the 'effing pink line, mom.”)

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I also don’t mind knowing that these days when my boys drive away from my house, they say to each other, “Mom’s so crazy,” (or the GenY equivalent). There’s no one I trust more with my craziness.

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