Friday Fiction - Freedom

"Jake, We need to talk."
"What? What did you mumble at me?"
"What do you want, Dad?"
There was all kinds of attitude in the word "Dad". Exasperation. Irritation. Attitude.
"Jake, we have to talk about the decisions you're making."
"You mean the decisions you make for me, don't you, Dad?"
There was that attitude again. Exasperating. Irritating. Me.
"Yes, as a matter of fact. Exactly. Like this bedtime thing. We give you a bedtime and you just arbitrarily decide that you aren't going to do as we ask. You just ignore it and us."
"No, I'm not ignoring you and Mom, Dad". Again. "I just object to the constant struggle for power over me."
"Power???? Over you? The LAST thing I want is power over you. I just want to know that you're making good decisions - and until I do, I have to set parameters for you to learn from. Right now, I can't trust the decisions you're making. You need sleep. You've been falling asleep in class - because you've been staying up half the night playing video games and chatting on your computer. As long as that's the kind of decision you're willing to make - then we have to step in and help."
"You're not helping, Dad." Again!!!!
"No. you're right. We're not. Because you refuse to cooperate. And yet, if you don't begin to cooperate, we can't let up and allow you to begin making your own decisions. Do you see what's going on here? Do you see the Catch-22 here?"
"What was that?"
"Yes. Yes I see."
"Look, Jake, believe this or not I really don't want to have to run your life. I would love nothing more than to be able to trust every decision you make, let you do as you please, to be able to go to bed at night completely confident that my son, my loving, caring, intelligent son, has made and will continue to make the kind of decisions that I know will lead him to college and to success beyond that."
"Yeah, but it's the decisions that YOU want me to make."
"Jake, what do you see when you look at me?"
"I don't know ... You!"
"You see an old man. You see someone you think foolish and not relevant. And in some ways, you're right. This is your time - it's not mine any longer. You are the future - and I am the past. But the biggest difference between you and me is that I have a past I can refer to - I have been where you are - and where you are going. I know where the pitfalls are. I know what kind of things are out there to knock you off your track. You are willing to charge blindly ahead. I, on the other hand, would encourage a slower and more cautious approach. I would offer guidance and you, it would seem, are bound to refuse. But I HAVE BEEN THERE. I know what you are going through, because I went through it. I am bound by my position as your parent to teach you and you are bound, it would seem, to ignore me, but it doesn't have to be that way. You want your freedom? I want to give you your freedom. All you have to do is trust me. All you have to do is trust that I am teaching you how to make good decisions that will make your freedom valuable. To you and to me. Because I want the same thing. Freedom."



Jientje said...

The topic of this conversation is universal and probably as old as the world itself I think. You painted it so well, I could even hear the tone of the voices! Well done!

nicole said...

It sums up an eternal struggle.

OHmommy said...

What I love about your writing is that I can hear the voices being played out in my head. It is such a delight.

I love your new look... so fresh and clean. Classy, Lou!

Also, thanks for educating me on kitten parts. It all makes sense now.

Shadow said...

wow. medal time for YOU!!!!! and guess what, we are having this very same argument with the bean nightly. and with school's starting next week, woe is me. back to the valium (just kidding). so, i'm printing this for the bean to read. thanks!

Eric S. said...

Ah the time honored conversation between parent and teen. Universally understood and dreaded. Each parent can understand exactly the point of the conversation. Yet each teenager is going to avert their eyes and attention at the mere suggestion of such conversation.

You do such wonderful dialog, and a parent could use this as a script at any one time.

maggie's mind said...

Beautiful dialogue and one I remember hearing in similar words. I didn't get it. Not being a parent, I don't hear myself saying the same a lot (and not as much as I would welcome, even), but there is someone in my life that alternates listening and not while I try so hard to help guide into a good future because I've been there and know how certain decisions impact the future. I only hope that I'm better at listening now because there are still those who could really teach me something, if I don't roll my eyes thinking I know better. Thankfully, I seem to get dumber as I age and become more likely to listen.

Beautifully written, Lou. Beautiful. And you made me think, too.

The Hotfessional said...

You've been sitting in my head, right? Or at least in my living room.

Thank you for giving me the words to say what I need to say to him.

Cathy said...

i'm dreading those conversations with my sons when they are teenagers! :) I love your new look!

Trannyhead said...

I remember when my parents used to tell me to go to bed and how annoyed I would be. But ... I was staying up because I was STUDYING. So they couldn't really argue with that, too much.

Yes, I was insane.

Honeybell said...

Love, love LOVE this. I'm sending it to my 13 year old.

(BTW-YAY for comment widget working!!)

Joyce-Anne said...

Well, well. I may just have to save this for when I need it. Unfortunately, I'll probably need it sooner as opposed to later. After all, my oldest is 7 yet sometimes it's like she's going on 13.

Indigo said...

Today was one of those epiphany days, a breakthrough for me. I thought I had it all together and yet I still have room to shed a few more tears, wondrous cleansing tears. So that is what a real father sounds like? It's an emulsion of love, respect and faith all in one. (Hugs)Indigo

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

I can't think about teenagers right now. I'm dealing with the terrible twos! :) Great writing as usual!

Tara R. said...

Have you been eavesdropping on my conversations with my Boy? You nailed it! Nicely done.

Patsy said...

Oh, the memories that brought back. I wish I had had that last paragraph back then. I don't think I was able to say anything more than, "My house, my rules." to the oldest daughter. The power struggle was not pretty, but fortunately it has had a happy ending.
Excellent writing in my humble opinion.

Suzanne said...

That sounds so much like my conversations with Gameboy!

Beautifully captured. You have such a gift for dialogue.

Hyphen Mama said...

LOU! Can I print this out? I have a "book" for my kids... things I've collected over the years that say it better than I ever could. At some point --I'm afraid more sooner than later--I'll hand my kids the book and say "See... it's not just me... it's a parent thing." Well, I hope it works out that easily, but I'm fairly sure it won't be.