Strudel is getting old enough now to reflect on my parenting. To my face. I would have rather died than do this with my mother, in part because that way I could choose my own death instead of waiting for her to execute me.
Last night, Strudel had me trapped on the way to the grocery store. She had just finished telling me about how she managed to acquire a whole year’s worth of guest logins for the computer lab of the university she attends on Wednesdays. The adults were too slow in getting them permanent access so she found a workaround. Then the subject turned to me somehow.
“I don’t think you were a bad parent in a normal way,” she said.
“What does that mean?” I said, trying not to laugh.
“Other parents say ‘no’ to everything, or are smothering. You were more like… letting me do things, even if they had a bad outcome.”
“Like letting me drink coffee.”
“Coffee is life,” I said.
“Yes but. Sometimes you would let me do things, even if you knew what was going to happen.”
What I don’t say is, I never let you do anything seriously dangerous. I don’t have to, because she knows that. We have this game where she thinks I let her do things and I pretend it was possible to stop her.
“Well, I didn’t want to fight you over stupid stuff. You know, your worst enemy is–”
I nod sagely as if I know anything at all before continuing.
“And your best friend is–”
“–Your mother,” I finish.
“I don’t think you should get a job now,” I say, wondering if I have a window here where she might actually listen to me.
“Work is terrible, and you should put it off as long as possible.”
“But I want money,” she says.
That’s how they get you, I tell her.