It must have been when our son was around 11 or 12 when we’d let him stay home alone while we went out for a night of grownup, childless debauchery. Despite his eyes being glued to the T.V., we felt certain he understood our instructions: Don’t answer the door; Don’t watch [fill in the blank] on Netflix; and Don’t answer the phone unless it’s us. What kind of parents would we be if we didn’t, right? Plus, we’ve always followed up with Love you.
Then, when he started going out with friends, these snippets of parental advice elevated to things like, Make good choices and Be smart.
Once he got his driver’s license, it forced us to dig into our bag of parent-isms and come up with a new set to accommodate this life milestone. Don’t text, Don’t drink, and Be careful. (Make good choices and Be Smart also carried over because, hey, they can work in any situation.)
Our son has never done anything to make us believe he will become a ward of the state; he’s always been responsible, respectful, and trustworthy. But still, we’re parents and it feels weird not saying something. You just have to. You hope that in the unlikely event his friends ask him to take part in a crime spree that’ll spread across several state lines, he’ll say, “You know, my mom said to make good choices. I’m out.” Deep down, we know he’ll do the right thing because for years, we’ve witnessed him doing just that.
Still . . .
After these first six months of being a licensed driver, our son can now finish our parental sentences before we do. It’s generally accompanied by a nod and an eye roll. Fortunately, he has a good sense of humor and often indulges us. Yesterday, as he headed out to meet some friends, I yelled, “Don’t be an asshole!”
My husband, in the midst of eating lunch, nearly choked. Then we all laughed. Our son said that he loved that one the most and asked if it could encompass all the other warnings and instructions. We agreed. (We still say Love you though.)
I told him that I’d put it on a t-shirt, which he wholeheartedly welcomed.
I designed it; I didn’t say I’d actually order it.