When you’re an only child, you grow up with the thinnest skin imaginable, because there’s nobody bullying you or telling you you have chunky legs or embarrassing you in front of a prospective boyfriend. This is the downside: we’re very sensitive. The upside is that you grow up being best friends with your parents, if you’ve got good parents, because they spent rainy days taking on the role of siblings, smashing their adult frames into pillow forts and listening patiently as you tell them a forty-five minute long story about third grade social dynamics. They indulge you. It isn’t always easy. You grow into the kind of kid who doesn’t like to sit at the short dinner table designated for youth to keep them out of the way — you’re exactly like that girl who’s always telling the boys she’s dancing with at the grade school mixer how fucking dope your mom or dad is. You sidle up to the big table and pull on your mom’s cuff and ask if she’d be interested in hunting for frogs or something. They can’t say, “Go bother Steve,” because they are the only people to bother. Depending on the persistence or stubbornness of your kid, you’re going to end up leaving the table to go to the backyard — visible from the dining table, a big wall of windows in front of your grown-up friends and colleagues — and hunt for frogs while inside they have wine and fun and throw around the f-word. And for a long time, your kid will neglect to thank you, because your kid doesn’t know how little you care about frogs. Your kid thinks you have the same interests, because you’re your kid’s best friend.
Later, of course, your kid will find other friends. Maybe your kid’s kind of a weirdo and this isn’t the smoothest transition; maybe your kid would like kid-friends but the options are just like, this asshole over here who carved his seventh-grade girlfriend’s name into his ankle and then colored it in with a Sharpie, or that young lady who tells everyone else in the fifth grade that you stuff your bra. Compared to your parents, who have proven themselves to be patient and fun and funny and smart friends, these kids will make you feel like you are not ten, but forty-six, and that you’d much rather have two forty-six year old friends who got you than a hundred ten year old friends who suck proverbial dick. During this transition, you may forget that your parents are your friends and assume, chubby and awkward and stuttering in a car outside a Burger King at 6 PM after another horrible JV soccer practice, that like Kip Drordry you have zero friends.
It’s horrible to have zero friends.
And so you tell your mom in the car, mayonnaise all over your hideous face, that you have no friends and will never have any friends. You’re crying because you’re a loser who sucks at sports and will never, ever in her life be on a varsity team for anything, who will never get algebra and who will FOREVER — meaning the next few years, FOREVER — be the person who stays up all night at the slumber party feeling left out, thinking that she was invited because the dean liked to tamper with people’s social lives and forced her invitation. And your mom will tell you that she would be your friend, that she would think you were cool, that she has known you for your whole life and has a better clue about how cool you are than a bunch of fucking bitches (and you’re like, did my mom just call these girls fucking bitches? Did she just say “fucking” and then “bitches” between bites of the new battered Burger King french fries?). And in one minute you go from zero friends to two wonderful friends, again.
You’ll forget. You’ll become a teenager and you will not want to be around your parents because you don’t trust the words that will come out of their mouths. All you want to do is pretend you have no parents and move into the Whiskey A Go Go. You make smart, fun, funny friends of your own who don’t tell you to do your homework. You treat your parents, as is required by law, like strangers who make your life 50% less exciting and fulfilling than it would be if you lived at the Whiskey A Go Go. You have literally no recollection of the night outside the Burger King or the frogs at the dinner party or the trips to the emergency room. And you move away and go to college and there feels as though there are more than two people in the world who get you.
But later, I’m not sure when, the memories of college and high school and everything are less clear than the night outside the Burger King. It’s as though all you’ve ever known were those two friends you’d always had, because suddenly you know that if you’d found yourself at a dinner party with your parents, three adults who hadn’t known each other for twenty-seven years, you would want to be their best friend. You would think how cool and smart and funny and fun they were, and even if your genetic codes were polar opposites and you didn’t see your own face in their two faces, you would find everything you’d ever needed in them, a friend a brother a sister a grandmother an aunt a kind bagger at the grocery on a day when you felt like shit.
There’s something to be said for parents who are willing to do this for their lonely, strange children who have been spared being spit on by their siblings on long car rides: they are always their age, but they’re also always your age. You have no choice but to tell them everything, and if they’re good listeners, they understand as though they were ten or twelve or fifteen or nineteen or twenty-eight. It’s the same as it’s always been so you forget to thank them, at least a lot of the time. But there are times when you think, “Nobody will ever know me like those two,” and then you think of people who nobody knows as well as they know you, and how lonely that would be, to spread yourself thinner over more people and to lose this concentrated relationship that is so poignant and particular and deep.
You can’t really thank your parents for being more than parents without crying and making everyone uncomfortable. You have to tell them that you ran out of Benadryl and you’re congested but that if you were to think of your most beautiful memory, it might be thirty seconds outside a Burger King in 1994. And for a second they don’t know what you mean, but then they know what you mean, like they always have.
- saturdaymorning reblogged this from kindafabulous and added:
- idlikeitiftheylikedus likes this
- kevinjohnshazzy likes this
- vbmac reblogged this from calenjames
- calenjames reblogged this from tesslynch
- singyoursight likes this
- inyourfacedotcom likes this
- lightersandlouboutins likes this
- alternative-education likes this
- teaformilady likes this
- thejk likes this
- swamibooba likes this
- icanfrenchbraidbutimnotfrench likes this
- christinefriar likes this
- onemoresalutetovanity likes this
- brainmouth likes this
- nothinggetscrossedout likes this
- fourfourten likes this
- missmarymackk reblogged this from kindafabulous and added:
- hipsterdiet likes this
- jackintheblog likes this
- meesterleesir likes this
- etchings reblogged this from kindafabulous
- etchings likes this
- ohdoy likes this
- maletz likes this
- sarahjoan likes this
- sarahjoan reblogged this from tesslynch
- floraposte likes this
- mishkabobs likes this
- doseofwords likes this
- alpaqa likes this
- reallykatie likes this
- lovelesswrists likes this
- mikeypizzle likes this
- lacrosse-sticks likes this
- lauracondi likes this
- unicornfandancing likes this
- kindafabulous reblogged this from tesslynch
- kindafabulous likes this
- james-nguyen likes this
- thelifeunimagined likes this
- mmadelyn likes this
- barretta likes this
- frescophonics likes this
- norwaytunnels likes this
- throughalens likes this
- tralfmadoriantreasures likes this
- thinlinednotepaper likes this