Growing up is hard to doJul 28, 2023 02:53PM ● By Lisa Lickel
My dad popped in to visit this morning and saw me on the kitchen floor with the vacuum cleaner torn apart and parts spread across the floor. The motor casing rested in my lap while I cleaned everything out with a fine brush and a hand-held suction hose from an older model.
I was reseating the motor in the plastic housing and having to twist it a bit to get it lined up with the screw holes when he told me I had better take it to a dealer because I could start a fire.
I will be 60 this year, but I will always be Daddy’s little girl—seen and rarely heard. I have accepted this and generally ignore his comments. Even my husband has stopped getting tetchy when he receives his well-meaning advice, though we admit it got easier after his own father passed away.
When I was 50 and staying with my parents for a few days to help out after Mom’s surgery, she still directed my cooking. She sent Dad into the kitchen to help me.
He stopped in his tracks and looked at me when I held up my hand and gave him the eye—you know, the non-verbal gaze that warned him against saying anything.
“I have raised your grandchildren pretty well,” I reminded him. “They survived. I have been married and managing my own house longer than I lived with you and I can handle making a meal.”
I love my parents and I understand why they do this. I also understand it’s not what all adult children go through.
Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to make them feel better when they moved to a town I knew well but they didn’t and asked them for directions. Maybe I shouldn’t have called to occasionally ask for recipes or instructions on specific dishes which reinforced Mom’s belief I didn’t know how to make food. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to remind them I loved and needed them by asking for advice or help once in a while as an adult. I don’t know everything, and I never will.
I still want to soak up every story, every bit of memory and all of their knowledge, and I know I don’t have that much time left to spend with them. They will always be concerned about my welfare, and I’m blessed to still have them in my life.
But their excessive disbelief in my ability to do much beyond feed the birds, write books and do anything on a computer makes me think about how I raised my kids—how I stand in wonder when they build things, cook exotic recipes, drive fearlessly across the country, take new jobs in amazing places and raise above-average children. I hope I haven’t hindered them or told them they couldn’t do too many things. I hope I taught them to love learning, to ask for directions when they need them and not to be afraid of things they don’t understand or can’t control.
I can use a hammer and a screwdriver. My dad taught me that.
I can fish and shoot a gun, too, but these days I leave hunting-gathering to others.
I’m not mechanically inclined like he is, and I get nervous speaking in crowds, like my mom.
Maybe it’s that they simply recognize that I inherited traits they wish they could take back and they’ll forever attempt to “fix” the problem.
I’ve inherited good things, too, which are often overlooked in the big picture: I love learning and puzzles, being engaged in my community and standing up for my beliefs. My inability to follow a recipe is my form of rebellion.
Anyway, I guess I won’t let my dad know I finished putting together the porch glider after someone else gave up, or get annoyed the next time Mom asks me how to get the messages from the phone, or read a text message, or reboot their e-readers and get back to the home page. We won’t even bring up cable TV or what happens if you push too many buttons on the remote. I will soon be them, and hope my kids have enough patience to deal with me.
Oh, yeah, the vacuum works fine since I got it all back together. Did I mention that my parents had given the machine to me when they downsized? And, no fires! So far. If there happens to be a fire sometime, I have a fire extinguisher and I’ve read the directions on how to use it.