I was driving my son and a friend of his home last week.
They'd been talking about a video game when I picked them up, but as we drove, the conversation shifted. I was half-listening to them, as Nolan made some comment about his siblings bothering him--and his friend pointed out that as he was the oldest, "at least you can boss your brothers around."
I looked over my shoulder at him, and he explained, that he couldn't necessarily boss his younger brother around as it ultimately led to his brother getting upset, and his mother then getting upset, which would mean in the end, that he'd be in more trouble.
"That's usually how it works," I pointed out.
He leaned forward, very man-of-the-world, and said, as he gestured to Nolan in the front seat, "Yeah, I always tell this one, that it's not so bad, and he should just not worry so much about his brothers annoying him. Even when he starts complaining how his parents suck...." he grinned, as Nolan turned around quickly in his seat to look at him, more quickly than I've ever seen him move in a long time, 'shut up, shut up, shut up' glowering on his face.
I smiled to myself, slightly turning my head towards the boys, and giving Nolan a sidelong glance, eyebrow raised a bit.
Nolan had that 'oh shit' look on his face now, like he was willing an escape hatch to open up beneath him in the van so he could fall into the waiting hole in the earth he'd just had dug for himself. Clearly, he was mortified.
"I didn't say that, Mom, really," he semi-pleaded.
Now, I have to admit, I was offended a little at first, as I can tell you, I am most assuredly not a parent-who-sucks. That child wants for nothing, really, unless you count the cruel-and-unusual punishment of not owning a cell phone or a laptop of his own as prime indicators of parental neglect. Or the fact that I filter out the things I deem inappropriate; and don't allow him carte blanche to play video games all day. Or give him a giant allowance.
Good God, I make him put his freshly laundered clothes away! Clean the kid bathroom! Make his bed!! Bathe! Do his homework! Crimes punishable in the kid court of law, for sure.
My son tried again to reassure me he had not said anything of that nature, and his friend was amused to watch him squirm, but I think they were both a little surprised when I said this, with a wave of my hand.
"Oh, come on. It's okay, man. E-v-e-r-ybody's parents suck, at one time or another. It's true. It's fine." I shrugged my shoulders.
We talked for a second or two more, as I pointed out to them that the things they thought their parents suck about were mainly things we were doing to try and rein them in a bit for a moment, just because you need to pace yourself when you are a teenager.
As we bid his friend good night, and I drove away, Nolan once again said, "Mom, I really, really didn't say that."
"No worries," I said, as I changed the subject. He maintained a nice conversation on the way home. He was exceedingly nice to all of us the rest of the night. His guilt breeding good behavior? (Maybe my mom was on to something...I certainly did my penance for her during my adolescence....)
Over the weekend, I was laying in my room, watching t.v. Ben was out with his Dad and Tata at a football game, so Nolan was hanging out with me. We were watching "Stranger than Fiction," that movie with Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, and Maggie Gyllenhaal; where Emma Thompson is a novelist and Will Ferrell hears her in his head, as she is "writing" his life. There was this scene where Maggie's character makes Will's some cookies (she's a baker) and it doesn't go over so well. "Didn't your mother make you cookies and milk afterschool?" she asks.
At this, Nolan looks at me, and grins, and reaches out to squeeze my hand. He scoots over and snuggles next to me. "You love your Mah-ma," I tease him.
"You make great cookies, Mom," he said. "I love you."
"Even though I suck," I added.
He sat up, giggling. "You're never gonna let me live that down, are you?" he asks, shaking his head.
"Not on your life," I told him, as I messed up his hair.