If we live long enough, and if our parents live/lived long enough ... we become them.
I recall the glee with which I heard my just-grown children, one after the other, say, in effect, “Omigosh! I have become my father!”
This often occurs during parenting, specifically during the first child’s attaining anywhere from nine months of age to three years of age.
That age span is usually when children transform, at least for a few minutes at a time, from cutesy-wootsy snuggly bunny widdle babykins to “that little savage”!
The doting parents among us strive mightily to never raise our voices to our young children.
I was not a doting parent. I am not a doting grandparent. For awhile, I will be a doting great-grandparent, at least when I first meet Aurora Bryn, who came into our family in August.
But that, too, shall pass.
My own children thought that I yelled at them in anger a lot. I did yell at them in anger on occasion. But on more occasions than non-parents realize, we yell at our children out of shock or fear, not anger.
Example: Little Bumpkins leaves her pull-toy right below the bottom step of the stairway. We step on it. Our foot goes out from beneath us. Perhaps we fall, perhaps not. But at the least, we are gyrating madly in search of a handrail, and exclaiming, “Wowseryowserbowser!” or some such expression.
Little Bumpkins cowers. Our spouse looks at us with extreme disapproval, perhaps muttering, “You doltish brute!”
“Hey, I damn near fell and clobbered my noggin!” we reply.
“You didn’t have to get so angry with Little Bumpkins,” is the retort.
That was not anger.
Anger would have been, “Wowseryowserbowser!” followed by, in effect, “You little savage, I TOLD you to pick up your toy!”
Spouses, specifically female spouses, don’t buy it.
“You were loud,” they say.
Umm ... yeah. I usually am loud when I am expecting imminent death or serious injury.
But with Little Bumpkins’ toy, the volume reflected shock and fear, not anger.
Years or even decades later, it is difficult to keep from outright chortling when the former Little Bumpkins, now Mrs. Perfect Mommy Wannabe, confesses via telephone that she “lost it” and yelled at Little Bumpkins II because a Lego was left precisely where her foot came down while she was toting a basket of laundry.
“I have become my father!” they say.
How’d’ya do? Pleezedtameetcha! Now, apologize for all those bad things you thought of me when you were a child.
Yes, young adults “become” their parents.
But that is only half of the equation.
Those of us who grin and chortle when our newly grown children confess that they have inherited our faults, foibles and expostulations should do so quietly.
The worm is about to turn, again.
I can’t speak about my father, because Dad died when I was 13.
But Mom ... Ah, God bless Mom.
“Dennis, can you come down here right away?”
Umm ... I am taking the call from my house, which is a mile from hers. The wall phone in the kitchen is held by my head against my shoulder, because I am trying to keep a formula bottle in the mouth of a suckling six-month-old, while hissing “Shush!” at the two-year-old who is singing “Eeensy Weensy Spider” right into my face. I am, at the moment, the only adult in the house.
“Gee, Mom, it’ll be a while.”
I either have to wait for my wife to return from her job, or bundle two kids into snowsuits, brush off the car, and venture out in February.
“But this is an emergency!” Mom shouts. Mom shouts a lot because, at age 74, she does not hear well.
“Oh, dear!” I reply, knowing full well the difference in her voice if Mom were having a real emergency. “Whatever is the matter?”
“The battery fell out of the stupid remote control and I can’t get the television tuned and Lawrence Welk is coming on any minute!” she says.
Sigh. Feed baby. Dress toddler. Brush off car. Slip-slide to Mom’s and show her, for the 43rd time, how to reset the remote control within oh, 30 seconds.
Are you chuckling?
We have computers and smart phones.
With computers, I am lucky. I used them at work until I retired four years ago, and they have not changed all that much since then. Many of you, however, aren’t that lucky.
With smart phones, I never got one until less than a year ago.
These days, I do not usually use the telephone.
“I know those photos are in there somewhere....”
“It won’t go to the home screen I want!”
“Why does it keep on beeping?’
My grown child, now anywhere from thirtysomething to fiftysomething, sighs.
“Dad, I have told you 43 times how to (whatever).”
Omigosh. I have become my mother.
❑ ❑ ❑
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: email@example.com