So, now it is time for the next confession: I have discovered one of the universal secrets of the teenage world, the real use for parents of seniors in high school. We are placeholders for the lines they wish to occupy simultaneously at college events. Last week, I served this function twice for my oldest daughter at intro-to-college events. At first I felt privileged, a mere taxi driver could not do this for my daughter. And being promoted from chauffeur to general lackey was indeed an honor.
It even started out fun, commiserating with the other parents. I bonded with several parents as we were parked in line after line, texting and calling our children to no avail as our spot in line rapidly moved to the front while the line they occupied appeared to never progress. Then we very politely asked the other three, four, five parents if they would please excuse us but save our spot while we checked in with our child and perhaps switched places with our child. Panic aside, serendipity always intervened, I never had to face the reviewer or admissions counselor by myself, no high school senior at my side. She always appeared to join me one spot before her turn.
But outside of that one consolation prize, both days were a bust on my end. I brought my computer along to do some work, thinking if we were there for three to four hours, I could accomplish something. I still don’t know what I was thinking; there were no chairs, just long lines that disappeared and mingled into other lines with irate people afraid you were trying to cut them in line when you were really just trying to trace the line to seek which college it linked up to. I even lost track of time in the non-functioning AC conference room. It seemed we had been there for days with lots of very sweaty people in a crowded room with more bodies than fire code should ever allow. Even the parking lots leaving were nightmares. We stayed parked in our car for half an hour, waiting for the floodgates to empty, but they never did. Finally, we started the engine and merged into the snail’s-paced exit lane, emerging on the other side another half an hour later. And for this torture, we paid a princely sum for parking.
Still, I felt like I had provided something of value to my child, until I heard the no-adults-listening version of the story. Then I realized how our children lump parents into useful categories as soon as they can walk and talk. Young teens, 13 and 14, want that parental ear to hear all their woes and rants and wishes, repeatedly. Fifteen- and 16-year-olds view parents as the means (a vehicle or keys or cash) to the end (movies, football games, shopping expeditions or anyplace that involves lots of gas and friends from the four corners of the county to drop off afterwards). And now the 17- and 18-year-olds, I realize, view us as the stepladder to get them to the next phase of life, a bookmark to save their spot in the chapter they are trying to finish before moving on to their next great adventure.
From toddlers who use mom as the Ms. Fix It for something wrong to the armchair psychologist for teens to chauffeur and now bookmark to save her place, it seems a mom’s work is often trivialized. If I weren’t so tired, I might be offended. But, when you are stuck in line for hours, feet aching, dying of thirst, and willing to trade all of your kingdom for a chair, you have no energy to get offended. It is enough of a battle to just be the “drive me home” mom. So, how about you?