Those “When I was your age” moments in parenting, when your story of hardship trumps your child’s story, are always one of those most satisfying moments as a parent.

I had one of those this morning. Because one of our vehicles had issues yesterday due to the extreme cold, there was a likelihood my oldest daughter would have to drive the youngest two daughters to school and drop them off a half hour early.

From the perspective of one of my younger daughters, this was considered a hardship of the highest order. “I’ll have to wait in the cafeteria for a half hour? That’s so boring!”

I knew I’d have to hear that again this morning, so before she woke up I calculated that when I was a kid I took the school bus to and from school each day for 12 years, for a total of 4000 bus rides.

The first thing my daughter said upon arising was, “Did the van start yet?” I told her I hadn’t checked yet but if she does end up getting an early ride, I’m not going to tolerate any whining because when I was her age I took the bus 4000 times and not once during those 4000 bus rides did I have fun. Her eyes widened and she was silent for many minutes. Yes!

I went out to try to start the van and it fired right up. Dang. I was so disappointed because I was already prepared with a comeback. You see, one of the other triumphs of being a parent is being able to use your own parents’ hardship stories that you were forced to listen to as a kid. It’s a fun way to recycle their stories. So I was all prepared to tell my daughter:

“When I was your age I didn’t complain about those 4000 bus rides even though we had a second car and my mom was a housewife and home all day and theoretically could have given me a ride and spared me the boredom of the bus. Why didn’t I ask her? Because my mom would have said, ‘You think walking to the end of our short driveway and hopping onto a school bus is a hardship? When I was your age I had to take a *city* bus all the time. The bus stop wasn’t anywhere near our house, either, and I had to walk many blocks just to get on the bus. We didn’t have a car, so we had to do this not to just go to school but anytime we needed groceries. Yes, that meant schlepping those groceries in a little pull cart for many blocks, even when the sidewalks were icy and it was freezing cold outside.”

As a kid I learned how to not trigger those stories but now as a parent I would have loved using that story of my mom’s as a trump card this morning. But that reliable Toyota didn’t give me a chance. Oh well. Maybe at least I can count on my 4000 bus rides story getting recycled in 30-40 years.


Filed under: ParentingStories/Storytelling


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