Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014 12:00 pm
By Debbie Baldwin
As a parent, you constantly hope you are doing it right. Occasionally, things happen that confirm that hope, changing it into a belief: I believe I’m doing it right. Be it an A on a test, a win in the big game, a good decision on the playground or at a party, the belief becomes a surety. Wow, I’m a good parent—no, I’m a great parent! You bask in the glow of it and fleetingly consider baking cookies or taking on a DIY project. And then one day, your teenage child stands in the kitchen, between you and the cupboard, and says with disturbing sincerity: I need a plate.
Wait. What just happened? I was getting ready to brag about you at a party. Suddenly, I’m wondering if you have a complete set of chromosomes. The plates are right where they have always been—just at arms’ length behind you. I mean, sure, I guess I could put down the two gallons of milk I am holding with the head of lettuce balancing precariously on top and get you one, but is it that much of a burden to rotate 90 degrees and extend your free hand?
Where did I go wrong? He hit all the milestones as a kid—crawled when he was supposed to, babbled a few syllables at the proper time. I can still remember my friend, Jody, in a panic that her oldest son, Teddy, hadn’t clapped when the book said he should. I glanced proudly at Cranky and Whiny, clapping away, and assured her it would happen. Will she give me the same smug sympathy when I tell her my teenager cannot locate dinnerware? Don’t worry. I’m sure he’s fine. He’ll figure out the kitchen cabinets…eventually.
Well, this is really going to put a dent in my parental boast. I mean, what good is an A on a chemistry test when your kid won’t be able to get through the cafeteria line? Perhaps I’m making too much of it. I guess I should be glad he asked for a plate at all, no matter how horrified I may be at his inability to execute. And I guess we all need these subtle reminders that no matter how good of a job we think we’re doing, there will always be that moment when your kid needs a plate.