Several books and essays have been written on childhood paranoia, but the topic of paranoia and parents does not seem so common. It’s a shame because my kids are driving me crazy. And at the risk of sounding paranoid, I think they are doing it on purpose.
Since I am home more often than my husband, I am often the one dealing with my tired and selectively deaf children. How many times can you say: Go to bed? It seems pretty clear. Three basic words. But no one listens until things get ugly.
One night, my nine-year-old daughter came into my office when she and her 11-year-old brother should be in bed, and she said, “I’m so sorry to tell you that you should be ashamed of your his.” If I didn’t recognize her right away, I would have sworn it was my ninth grade teacher who was speaking to me. Of course, I didn’t even want to know what I should be ashamed of because I knew from past experiences that this couldn’t go anywhere bright.
Even though I refused to acknowledge her presence, she couldn’t wait to tell me that she was trying to break into a website by giving false information to its home page. He knew he could try whatever he wanted because it wasn’t going to work. She did not do it. She was outraged that he stooped to such levels and then he was angry that he had not only denounced him, but labeled him as embarrassing.
All the time, he just wanted them to go to bed.
Normally that would be enough for one night, but my oldest son had been out for the weekend and apparently didn’t want to miss out on the fun of going crazy. I called him an hour and a half before he was supposedly to arrive at his predetermined pickup point. I asked him specifically if the bus was on time and he said yes, but he would call if he was early. I said, “Okay, let me know why I’M GOING TO PICK YOU UP”.
An hour and a half later, I jumped in the car, in the rain, and went looking for him. As I was merging onto the highway, I saw a wet hitchhiker who I stopped to pick him up. If it weren’t raining, it would have passed in front of him. When he got into the car, I asked him where he was going and he gave me a vague answer in Hebrew slang: “Downtown”, which means the Tel Aviv area or its surroundings. I told him where I was going and he decided it was good enough so we left. We had a nice conversation until I heard my cell phone ring.
It was my 13 year old son. I answered the phone and told him I’d be there in about 10 minutes, at which point he yelled into the phone, “No Mom, I’m home. I got a ride. I asked Dad to tell you before I left.” “
He wasn’t even sure who he should kill first.
So there I was, in the rain with a stranger, driving somewhere for no particular reason other than to feel that I owed my hitchhiker the decency to leave him where I said he would. It’s not their fault my kids were trying to drive me crazy.