Desperate for a bit of nostalgia, forgive me this reprint of a column I wrote a few years ago……
Easy enough to dismiss it as another indulgent American insanity, this newly promoted notion of parental outsourcing. Why not? My tech dilemmas are handled in India, and my 411 query for a local number has yielded a southern drawl at the end of the fiber optics.
So you’re frustrated with carting the kid to soccer? Hire a teen taxi. In fact, never quite got the hang of the game yourself, whip out the check book and whip the kid into shape with a private practice buddy. Can’t quite fit in teaching her to ride a two-wheeler, no problem. And toilet training, why bother? Someone can do it better.
My response to the morning show feature on this budding parental trend wasn’t the drop-jaw shock that it may have been just a few short years ago. Even the article on the New York City lab that’s structuring artificial wombs wasn’t shocking so much as it was more of the same. Don’t ask an incredulous, “what’s next?” You can’t even imagine it.
When I summarized the show to a friend, she jumped at the notion. Driving with my teenager? I’d pay someone to sit in that seat, she insisted. In fact, she seemed eager to pass the reins on a host of the duties associated with raising teenage daughters.
Maybe we’d all like to give up some of the parental job requirements. After all a stand-in for a few of those dirty diapers or the midnight bout with the stomach bug may have been welcome. I’m sure all our lists would go on. And on.
But for all the times that hiring a surrogate with all the right answers might have been nice, I can’t help but think of that other price. So I’ll keep the memory of our ineptness at handling a desperately ill baby daughter for its parental baptismal and lesson on life’s priorities. I’ll forgo the grief counselor that would have given much better answers for the mirror of my own feelings in my daughter’s eyes. I’ll welcome the sleepless nights with the twisting and kicking little boy because it was coupled with soft morning cuddles. And I’ll let them scream that they hate their parents because I know they’ll be heartfelt “I love yous” that’ll make it more than worth their hollow negatives. I’ll suffer the teen wrath for all the “no’s” to watch her eyes light up when she got my “yes” to the concert, the party, the dance.
With his incessant chatter are glimpses to the humor and intellect that will turn the boy to a young man. With the endless questions come search and discovery of pieces of my world I’d never have found without him. If I wished her heartache away when her best friend moved out of state I’d also have missed her glowing determination and success at keeping the connection. If I blanketed her angst after being cut from the team, I’d have missed the resilience that I could never really have taught her.
So the next time I fall out of a tree while helping him build his backyard fortress, I’ll take a moment among the poison ivy and red ants to ponder that it may well be worth it. Making memories, these could be the good ‘ol days he remembers most. And the ones for which I will someday wax nostalgic.